Musings from the Artistic Director

“Symphonic A cappella” a success. What’s next for SMCC?

The Festival Singers’ initial outing as an a cappella group was a resounding success, artistically; and the audiences were of a respectable size (if not quite what we were hoping).  I thought the choir rose to the occasion(s), sang with great accuracy yet emotion, and it was a great pleasure bringing these delightful works to life.  The audience seemed to react very positively to both the main works (Bantock and Spohr), including an immediate and rousing standing ovation at the end (these are more and more de rigeur in modern America, so I gauge their authenticity by how enthusiastic and immediate they are).  I hope the evident pleasure in the reactions of the audience leads to greater attendance at the next outing of the Festival Singers (as yet unplanned). We had over 200 at each performance, resulting in a combined total of well over 400, but, alas, we had budgeted for more, given that, at the Festival Singers’ debut performance last Fall, we had over 1000 at the two concerts.  Hence, we had budgeted for double what we got (and we thought 800 was conservative, given last year’s 1100).

This could be a conversation for later – what is it that makes a concert a success?  In my mind it’s mostly a crapshoot – completely unpredictable.  It doesn’t seem to rest on the familiarity of the repertoire; a catchy title; the adventurousness of the programming; interesting collaborations; the performance venues we choose (i.e. ready access to parking, good acoustics, etc.) …  We’ve had both big and small audiences at all of the above, and I despair sometimes to enter into the minds of the audience to know what will sell and what won’t.  But, ultimately, I suppose, I care less about what will sell than about what I think I would love to perform; and in this case, giving both the Bantock and Spohr a hearing was important to me – lifetime goals now fulfilled.  The fact that we lost money on the performances?  Well, that’s the nature of performing organizations in our culture.  I should probably learn to dwell on the positives and let that which detracted from the overall experience be like the proverbial water off the duck’s posterior. J

So, what’s next for St. Martin’s?  We go from 65 singers down to 16, and perform three concerts in late October to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, with works by German Lutheran composers from Luther to Mendelssohn.  “A Mighty Fortress,” is my attempt at a catchy title; and there are works by familiar names like Bach, Mendelssohn, and Schütz; and unfamiliar names like Hartmann, Walther, and Homilius.  And it is the first time that I, a Krueger, have performed a work by another Krueger, in this case Johann Crüger (1598-1662).  The concerts are the weekend of Oct. 27-29, Fri. and Sat. nights, and Sun. afternoon.  Go to our website for more information:   www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org/concerts.  Tomorrow I am recording a little promo-video with the stalwart Gene M., so perhaps next week I’ll be able to provide a link to it.