Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Community Sing, Outreach, Concerts as Events, and Optimism

In the world of very visceral and in-your-face entertainment experiences, popular culture's understanding of an event is significantly different from 35-40 years ago. The 1970s were the last big blast of choirs being a cultural force in most people's every day lives. I grew up in a choir director's home, so my view is a bit jaded. I think the world revolves around choirs and singing. And I wish that was more of a reality for most people. But the truth is choral concerts are a peculiarity in the world of entertainment. However, the challenge that faces all performance organizations, choral or not, is that the community must still rally around the organization for it to be successful. Today that means when people attend a concert it has to somehow give back to the community beyond simply being excellent music in the atmosphere. How do I reach out? Well events like tomorrow's (or today's if your reading this on Thursday, April 14) InChoir community sing. We are inviting the community into our process. How do we as singers/ performers/ musicians approach the world? How do we come into a "connectedness" with each other and how do we bring that connection to the greater public? We reach out, to invite in. We prepare for concerts more like they are community experiences than formal gatherings with few social connections being made. Now this final concert on our season "Song My Mother Taught Me" is in most ways a "traditional" concert experience. But it is an event that brings a message. I am working towards it being a concert of hope, expectation, and joy. But this doesn't happen without effort. I am so excited to conclude this season of Choral music with some great works, Ludwig Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" and Johannes Brahms' "Requiem." Tomorrow, at the InChoir event, I will expound upon the deeper meaning and purpose of these pieces. I feel that they are filled with grand hopes, songs to remove fear and anxiety, songs of peace. This is often what our community is looking for. Culture pushes us to react. I hope this concert asks us to connect and respond, and not react. Maybe I am overly optimistic about what a concert can do for a soul, but I prefer the optimism over fear.

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