The September issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Utilizing the Principles of Storytelling to Design Engaging Concert Programs” by Emilie Bertram. You can read it in its entirety at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the introduction.
The creation of an engaging concert program has been a topic of interest among choral music professionals for decades. Conductors consider numerous factors when choosing repertoire: the current and potential ability of the ensemble; the performing venue; representation of a variety of time periods, composers, key centers, styles, genres, languages, and textures; a balance of difficulty, both in terms of preparation and ease of listening; considerations of text; and the amount of rehearsal time available. In an academic setting, concert programming entails choosing repertoire that constitutes the course “textbook” during a student’s involvement with a particular ensemble.
The already complex task of selecting repertoire becomes even more challenging when one factors in the listening audience. Conductors must choose repertoire that keeps audience members engaged and attending concerts, essential for the longevity of any choral program. The formulation and presentation of engaging and relevant content, including repertoire, is a key contributing factor to the sustainability of choral programs and the well-being of choral singers and music patrons. Conductors have developed numerous organizational constructs to assist in designing concert programs that allow for these considerations. Some of the most commonly employed structures include: featuring the music of a specific composer(s), presenting music of a particular country, or creating a themed concert.
In addition to these time-tested frameworks, a “new” concept is emerging, one as old as humankind: storytelling. Neurological research has found that the human brain is hardwired to crave story. The power of a story lies in its ability to elicit an emotional response by tapping into universal values, while the familiar format encourages full attention and immersion.
Read the full article in the September 2021 issue of Choral Journal at acda.org/choraljournal