Re-invigorate your choir with an unusual performance

When planning performances for our choirs, it can be easy to end up doing the same things year in year out. A few years ago I was reminded of something very important: it’s good to let your hair down once in a while!

Lots of wrongs can make a right!

We had just finished a week-long food festival in our village which was packed, not only with food but great music too. As our contribution to the festivities, we decided to opt for something a little different for our contemporary choir – a sing-along visiting all three village pubs. Now, in terms of performance conditions, everything was wrong. We had to cart sound equipment from pub to pub, we had to squeeze people into tiny spaces – even around the bar in one venue. There was no lighting, it was very hot and at one stage Victoria and I were doubling the conducting of the choir, with one of us standing around a corner!

However, here’s the thing, it was so much fun that nobody minded. Everyone was great spirits. The evening was sociable, the venues were packed with appreciative audiences and, above all, it all took place right in the heart of our community.

A change is as good as a rest

After the performance I had many emails and messages from choir members saying how much they enjoyed it. They loved the spontaneity of it as we didn’t know what would await us at each venue. They found it really sociable and were able to enjoy time with their family and friends in between performances. Of course, the choir loves performing in more formal settings, but this event proved what fun it is to get out and do something a little different. The buzz afterwards was fantastic and rewarding for members who had worked hard learning their songs. It was also the first time I’ve ever been able to announce to an audience that we were on tour!

We did a similar performance with our smaller Chamber Choir, who sang in a wine bar in our village. Again, the atmosphere was great and very different to the usual concert setting. The place was packed with family and friends as well as village residents and members of other local choirs. The performance was a great advert for the choir and was a huge boost for the venue.

Take the plunge

The point of all this is not to recommend that you start singing in pubs (although if you want to have a go, it’s great fun) but to suggest that whatever your choir gets up to, it can be an inspiring experience to do something a bit different. Many commercial venues will be only too happy to provide a bit of space for you to sing, particularly if you come with an entourage of prospective customers. Charities are always on the lookout for interesting new fundraising ideas and are often delighted to be able to add some musical interest to their events.

The lesson I learnt and have continued is that unusual performance opportunities, even in circumstances that might seem far from musically ideal, can be a great boost for a choir’s morale and motivation.

Christine Mulgrew

    Christine Mulgrew

    Christine is a contemporary choir leader who loves to help novice and nervous singers find their voice.

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    Liz Birch - a few months ago Reply

    For our Christmas concert, we performed in a church centre which had a bar, put out tables and chairs with paper cloths and electric candles on, provided nibbles and mince pies, sung songs from our repertoire and Christmas ones too. We also had some audience participation songs. We sold tickets for £5 and all the proceeds went to charities. We were very surprised (but pleased) to have to put out extra tables before we started!!!!

      Christine Mulgrew
      Christine Mulgrew - a few months ago Reply

      Thanks for sharing this story Liz, sounds like it was a lovely event. It’s a great feeling when something you organise proves really popular. I love these kind of events, they are different, quirky and intimate. They offer an alternative to the more formal concerts which take place and give singers the opportunity to grow their performance experience and confidence in a more relaxed environment.

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    Lois Johnston - a few months ago Reply

    Thank you for all your advice. It is so good to know that there is so much enthusiasm around. My small choir has sung A Capella at Open Gardens and performed at Craft Fairs and last December performed our fifth Christmas event with supporting cast at the local library( their biggest fundraiser.) we also had a dinner to celebrate our 10th Anniversary – we had a musical quiz and insisted that everyone sang between courses. Great fun and lots more to come!

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      Victoria Hopkins - a few months ago Reply

      Hi Lois. We’ve had a lot of fun with musical quizzes. I’m glad your celebration went well.

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    Holly - 3 years ago Reply

    Hi both,

    I love your insights and your advice re running choirs….I run two community choirs, both from pubs. It is a fab way to give something back to the community and sing at the same time! We do some fantastic gigs in pubs over the year from Morris Men and Mince pies, where we sing at the local church and then go back to the local pub to sing with the Morris Men, to various carol concerts and charity performances, and flash mobs in pubs are always well received!! Keep singing!!

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      Victoria Hopkins - 3 years ago Reply

      Hi Holly. I love the idea of choirs in pubs.

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