How to create a knockout programme for your next choir concert

Whether you are bringing different acts together in one concert or it’s just your own choir, thinking through the order of repertoire is key in presenting an interesting and varied evening for your audience. Here are some quick tips:

Mix it up

Think about the music styles that will appear in the concert. If it is a specific work of a composer or a musical theatre show then there will be a pre-determined order. If, however, your show is more of a variety performance, with an eclectic range of music, try to alternate and mix contrasting styles. For example, five power ballads back to back will lose effectiveness, whereas if they are placed among upbeat numbers or different genres, they will have more impact. For our concerts, we often have both our contemporary and chamber choirs performing. While we feature the two choirs in both acts, we pay careful attention to the flow of the pieces as a whole.

Consider your singers

When you’re planning a running order, think about it from your singers’ point of view. How demanding will the order be on their voices? If you have songs that are more challenging vocally, try to ensure you don’t put these too close together in the programme. Similarly, if you have all the demanding pieces in the first act of the show, your singers may feel vocally drained early on and not able to enjoy the performance as much as they could.

Obviously we don’t want to keep bringing our choirs on and off stage, but grouping the pieces into two or three numbers before switching choirs or performers can work very nicely. If the show is just your choir, having some solo or small group performances can help to break up the programme, add variety and give singers a rest.

Leave them wanting more

It is often tempting to add more and more into a programme, often because we fear that we might be short-changing the audience if we don’t. Resist this! Far better to have the audience leave wanting more than breathing a sigh of relief when it’s all over. We find that two acts of around 45 minutes seem to work very well, and we’ll often have a slightly shorter second half.

Comments on How to create a knockout programme for your next choir concert

  1. Avatar Kamali says:

    Thanks for these very relevant tips.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Kamali,

      You’re very welcome.

  2. Avatar Shelagh M. Rogers says:

    It is fun to consider the visual aspect too – in terms of what the choirs will wear and what the small groups wear – if your choir habitually wears one colour, put a contrast item in for small groups that reflects their music.

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Shelagh,

      Great suggestion, creating visual changes can definitely add interest. Last year as part of a concert we had a small group performing a quirky country song. They didn’t have time to change but added cowboy hats as a prop!

  3. Avatar Maddie Cordes says:

    Good advice. In deciding on the order I also take account of any solo slots and where choir will be positioned durimg those, which songs have backing tracks and which piano and which a capella. I sometimes pair songs on a theme too or do alternate ballad and upbeat. I try to end the concert on a high with something fun the audience can join in with eg Inhave done an Abba medley for lyrics for the audience and for a classics concert the Hallelujah Chorus with the audience up onstage with the choir!

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Maddie, some great ideas.

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