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.