Musings from the Artistic Director

The St. Martin’s Festival Singers

I’m announcing a new initiative for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir – the formation of “The St. Martin’s Festival Singers” to complement the existing Chamber Choir! This new initiative will be an expansion of the Chamber Choir for one concert per season. At its core will be 24 existing singers from the Chamber Choir; but 20 to 40 additional auditioned singers will join them for this one concert.

The impetus for this initiative is three-fold:

  1. I have frequently desired to do a larger work than is possible with 24, or even 32 (our largest concert ever), singers. This could include pieces with orchestral accompaniment (Mendelssohn LobgesangSymphony, RVW Dona nobis pacem, and many more spring immediately to my mind); but also large-scale a cappella works (Randall Thompson wrote an a cappella ‘Requiem’ for double choir; I have a Granville Bantock Choral Symphony on my shelf that calls for three choirs plus a solo quartet; Horatio Parker wrote Adstant Angelorum Chori, which I programmed with 24 singers a decade ago, but it would be far more effective with a larger group; Spohr wrote a mass for two choirs, one large and one small; there is much chori spezzati repertoire from 17th and 18th century Venice and Rome that would be very effectively rendered with more than our usual 24 . . . etc.).
  1. There are many very fine singers of my acquaintance who either fall just shy of qualifying for St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, or are not interested in singing in SMCC for our full, demanding season. Additionally, music majors and other good singers from local universities might find this of interest. Many of these have said something like this to me over the years: “If I could sing with St. Martin’s one time in my life, I could die happy!” These are the people I envision wishing to supplement the Chamber Choir in one concert a year.
  1. Many arts experts are touting the increasing value of “immersive” experiences, given societal trends. The opportunity of enfolding a cadre of 20 to 40 additional singers into the “St. Martin’s experience” might be one way of entering into this for a greater number of people, which might have a rippling enthusiasm effect in our audience at large.

Coincidentally, a specific opportunity for a “Festival Singers” idea recently surfaced in conversations with David Rutherford, the director of the Stratus Orchestra and classical music host on Denver’s KVOD. We were both talking about how we’d love to do the RVW Dona nobis pacem – one of our mutually favorite choral/orchestral works. I told him that, amazingly, I’d been mulling this idea of a “Festival Choir” over in my mind for years, and had just come to the decision to act on it in our 2016-17 Season. This might be the perfect opportunity to debut such an idea!

So, whether or not such a collaboration gets pulled together over the next 9 months, the “Festival Singers” will make their appearance in our 2016-17 Season. I will soon begin advertising for people to audition for this St. Martin’s Festival Singers. If you would be interested in auditioning, or know someone that you think might make a good fit, let me know! info@stmartinschamberchoir.org

I also welcome feedback – enthusiastic, neutral or concerned – about this proposed initiative.

Tim Krueger, 20 November 2015