Outdoor performances are a lot of fun. They have a very different feel to indoor concerts because they’re often on temporary stages or just a patch of pavement or grass. They may even be ‘flash mob’ events where the singers are in amongst the crowd.
Outdoor events are exciting for your choir, but can present headaches for you as the leader. Here are some challenges you may face and how best to deal with them:
This tends to be the no.1 challenge for outdoor performances, unless of course you are fortunate to live in a warm and reasonably predicatable climate. Here in the UK we never know what to expect; it could be warm and sunny or it could be blowing a gale with horizontal rain! Although it’s great to be optimistic, it’s best to have an all-weather plan in place in advance. Will the event go ahead? Can it be moved indoors or will it have to be cancelled? If bad weather means cancellation, when will you make the call and how will you tell everyone?
You may be lucky enough to perform at an outdoor event where all the tech stuff is handled by a crew, and all you have to worry about is the choir. However, there may be other instances where you need to consider providing your own amplification. Make sure you visit the site and assess what’s needed. Think about safety. For example, where will you run cables and how will you protect people from tripping over them? Make sure your insurance policy covers you for what you’re doing.
If you experience wet weather on the day, it can be dangerous to set up electrical equipment without cover. Talk to the event organisers in advance about provisions of cover such as a marquee if the weather is bad. Don’t be afraid to step in and say you can’t use your equipment if you feel that you or any of your sound crew or singers could be put in danger. I have had to do this in the past. It’s hard to make that call, but safety must come first.
The outdoor experience
Make sure your singers are prepared for how different it can be to sing outdoors, compared with a rehearsal room. If you have some outside space at your venue, consider a trial run if your choir isn’t used to outdoor singing.
Repertoire and performance planning
My final point is that when selecting repertoire and planning performance duration, think about the environment your choir and the audience will be in. If the event is in summer and you’re likely to have fine weather, a longer set will be lovely for all. If you are doing a winter performance (such as singing Christmas carols here in the UK), take the temperature into account. You might have an hour’s worth of great songs, but no-one will want to stand out in the cold for that long!
If you plan carefully, liaise with event organisers and keep your choir informed, you can ensure that your outdoor performances run smoothly and that your choir and audience have a great time.