What a great post from Chris Rowbury’s From the Front of the Choir. Recruiting sufficient male singers to maintain a balanced choir can be a real problem.
I suppose we either have to find ways of attracting more men to choirs, or we have to adjust our repertoire to suit the singers we have. I’m exploring the latter approach at the moment and seeking out pieces that allow for some flexibility in who sings which part. I sang Andy Beck’s Firefly recently and it’s a great example of a song that could be sung by pretty much any group. You could produce very different sounds depending on how you grouped your singers, which might be a fun experiment.
If you’re adept at arranging, can you re-jig SATB into SAB(aritone)? One of the things that frustrates me about “traditional” SATB arrangements is that they often seem to be really heavy on the tenor and bass divisi. I’ve had to reject more than one song that I’d hoped to work on with my chamber choir for this reason (one piece had two tenor parts, three bass parts and a tenor solo. Not going to happen!).
One of the golden rules that I learned from my excellent tutors at ABCD is that you have to conduct the choir in front of you, not the choir in your head. That has to hold true for selecting repertoire as well, doesn’t it?