Responding to an inquiry in a choir Facebook group (that shall not be named) about why it may not be best idea to sing Vittoria’s “O Magnum Mysterium” at a tree-lighting. This is a quick lesson on playing the long game.
The original post on Facebook:
Every year our choir is invited to sing at the city Tree Lighting ceremony. Last year the set we sang included the Victoria O Magnum Mysterium, Betelehemu, and Carol of the Bells – a mix of songs people may know, but also a few they probably didn’t (I don’t remember the entire set). My principal got an email from them today (the concert is on Wednesday) asking him to ensure the choir performed more “festive” music this year, because we sang “some Bach or something” last year. I work really hard to select repertoire that is both educational and challenging. The choir loved the Victoria last year, and sang it really well. I admit that if it was the only song we sang that might have been problematic, but we did a lot of upbeat and more traditional things too. I’m stumped as to how to respond.
My response, and what I will use to elaborate upon in this episode:
I LOVE all the pieces you programmed, but for an event like this you must think of your audience of regular old people who know nothing about choral music. Meeting them where they are is the first step to raising them to where you want them to be musically.
A tree lighting is the perfect place to “give them what they want”. If you do, they’ll start showing up at your regular concerts, THEN you can educate them.
Do not give away an opportunity to brighten people’s Christmas season through your great work with great kids. 🙂 If you want to expand your reach in the community, do the gig, sing some familiar songs that don’t make you feel like you’re selling your soul, and watch as everyone comes up to show their appreciation for your choir.
This is a HUGE opportunity to make people smile. Forgive the “some Bach or something” comment, realize they’re clueless, and do it brother!