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Building audience through a choir sampler concert?

There are at least 20 active choirs in our rural area within an hour's drive of each other. The area is also served by a Choral Arts Foundation, whose "ultimate goal is to energize those who sing and those who listen to both formal and casual performances of community choruses, church choirs, and school music groups."
 
The Choral Arts Foundation is thinking about possibly hosting a Choral Sampler Concert in the spring, and I'm looking for feedback/thoughts that would improve such an event.
 
Current concept:
Early April 1.5-1.75 hour free concert given twice in one day (afternoon, evening) at the outer edges of the region.
1.25 hrs divided among participating choirs (15 choirs = 5 min/choir; 10=7.5; 20=3.5)
.25-.5 hrs for getting on/off stage + one or two audience sing-a-longs
Concert program with choir info including upcoming performances
Choirs would pay small fee ($25?) to participate which would contribute to covering:
  • advertising of program
  • programs
  • venue rental
  • an emcee for the event
  • no electronic sound system; piano available but each group brings its own accompanist
  • a few prize drawings of "golden tickets" good for 2 tickets to any participating choir
Choral Arts Foundation (volunteer non-profit) would publicize event, print program & organize concert.
 
What do you all think? What would make it worth coming? Would this build audiences? Has anyone else participated in something like this? We will be contacting local choir directors about this as well, of course, but the more thinking we've done ahead of time, the better the proposal will be...
Replies (2): Threaded | Chronological
on August 15, 2013 8:39am
With only 5 min per choir, that might be just one song, maybe 2 short songs. May not be worth the time, effort and transportation of the respective choirs/choir director for such a short amount of performance time.
 
You might want to consider bringing in a clinician(s) to make this a learning experience for the choirs as well. Then culminate the day with the concert to include a mass choir of all participants. Check with music stores and music publishers for connections. I've been involved in several of these and they are great learning experiences and develop a connection with a "community of singers." Mass choirs can produce amazing music that everyone enjoys. You said you are in a rural area, so how often do the singers get to sing in a large choral endeavor? Pure magic, done right. Great for participants as well as the audience. If continued, expect it to grow each year.
 
If possible, you might want to reconsider sound enhancement. Unless your accoustics are great, amplification would be needed at least by the emcee or any soloists, or a clinician if you go that route. A portable amp could work for this.
 
What is the approximate size of the respective choirs? I assume small, since you are rural, but I could be wrong. You would need enough venue space for each choir to be in the audience for each other, as well as the friends, family and community that come to hear them.
 
You mention spring. Assuming you will be inviting church choirs, you might want to schedule for after Easter. Most church groups are
busy working on Lent and Easter music and cantatas before Easter.
 
"Variety is the spice of life"................and that goes for programming as well. A variety of music and performing groups will help with
audience development. Include any handbell/chimes groups, maybe some instrumental groups, to intersperse between the choral performances.
 
You might consider (if you haven't already) inviting high school, middle school, elementary choruses to join. They might not have that
many opportunities to perform for a large audience outside of their normal circle of school, family and friends. This would be a great experience for them as well.
 
You don't say in what part of the country you live, but if the choral arts are encouraged, you should have good participation. It will be smaller the first year as you "get the ball rolling," so to speak. Once you have a successful concert, word of mouth will help it grow with
successive years. Having a Choral Arts Foundation sounds like music is important in your area.
 
I've been involved in several of these, most on a large scale, due to proximity (near Washington DC), but also on a smaller scale when I put it together in other geographical locations that were not as urban.
 
(By the way, food is always a good draw, whether catered or pot luck, or even a snack/dessert concert or ice cream social. If you are going to have people there for several hours, they need to be fed. Music and food................always a good combination.)
 
Blessings and good luck with this endeavor. I'd love to hear how it turns out.
 
Judy
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 16, 2013 4:26pm
Thank you, Judy - those are very helpful comments.  I've wondered about only asking 7 choir, or taking only the first 7, in order to provide each group with 10 minutes... as you said, 5 minutes is awfully short for a group to travel. On the other hand, 7 out of 20 is a much smaller choral sampler, and the goal is to expand community choir audiences by getting people out of their bubble -- more aware of what other groups are doing, etc... we're hoping this way, fans of a women's auditioned group could hear the men's barbershop or the large community chorale or the 23-voice auditioned jazz group.
 
I appreciate your taking the time to write!
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