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Community Chorus performing with a professional orchestra?

Hi Folks,
I posted the following in the Choral Discussions Forum of ChoralNet. I am getting some interesting opinions but then thought, why not post here in the Community Choirs Community?  I flagged the thread if you are curious to see what the ChoralNet population in general has to say about this.  I am hoping you all would have an interesting slant.
We are having a discussion around here about the benefits of having a local community chorus sing with a local professional symphony.  One of my arguments for having a community chorus is chorus members bring people to concerts to hear them--and those people pay for tickets.  Paying for tickets is good in this economy and this particular professional symphony needs the money.  I was told  it isn't true, chorus members don't bring extra people to concerts.  It was also pointed out, musically, having a university chorus would be better but.....they would have to pay a stipend for  the university chorus and the kids aren't local so wouldn't bring any extra audience members. These are not horrible local choral groups at all , they are better than average for community choruses,  but *someone* thinks it looks better to have a university chorus.
There is also a thought to use core singers from all the local community choruses.  Not ideal but the general idea of using local singers to not only sing a major choral work with the symphony but to help to bring in audience--*putting folks in seats*--seems a workable solution.
I am hoping to have some wonderful input from your wonderfully fertile minds........what are some better arguments for using local singers? 
on June 4, 2012 1:42pm
It seems to me there are pros and cons to both. Years ago I sang with the Adirondack Community Chorus and we had the opportunity to perform with the Syracuse Symphony. My impression was that it was a wonderful experience for the chorus and I believe we did bring a following to fill some audience seats. While at Eastern Nazarene College we performed with the Quincy Symphony on occasion and while at Westminster Choir College of course performed numerous times with professional orchestras. Certainly a university choir with the reputation of WCC fills additional seats at concerts as well. Personally, I am much more inclined to buy symphony tickets when they are performing a work with chorus. It seems to me that everyone wins in many ways when groups marked by artistic excellence partner in performance. The 'ad hoc' group seems least desirable to me, but the Richmond Symphony Chorus was established years ago Robert Shaw was coming to direct a work needing a chorus...I suspect there are other similar stories.
Larry Heath
on June 5, 2012 9:42am
I am the general manager of an organization that includes a symphony orchestra, symphony chorus, youth orchestra, and youth chorus.  Our chorus is volunteer, and performs two concerts each season, plus sings with the symphony for 1 concert/season.  Every other year this concert is a combined symphony/chorus Christmas concert.  In the opposite years, we invite 1 or 2 of the local college choirs to sing with our chorus and orchestra for a major work.  This combined performance benefits the colleges which do not have symphony orchestras of their own and would not be able to perform a work of this scale on their own.  To do so they would have to hire a pick-up orchestra, usually only being able to afford a chamber orchestra.  Instead, they are able to perform in a combined chorus of 100-150 people with a full symphony is a wonderful cultural and educational experience for all parties...we do not have to pay the college groups to join us!  Each chorus director prepares his/her own group, then the combined group gets together for a couple of joint rehearsals under the baton of the director who will conduct the performance.  Each group purchases or borrows their own vocal scores.  We have used this model successfully many times over the years.  I have also been able to apply and receive grant money for these performances, especially desirable to funders who want to fund collaborative programs.
The performance of a major choral/orchestral work will definitely bring in additional audience members. Some people will be attracted simply by the scope of the repertoire.  As far as the college students, it is true that many are not local, but many are from within a 2-hour drive and their parents and families will come if you schedule on a weekend.  Of course your community chorus families and friends will also add to the audience.  If you are really wanting to increase the audience, perform a work that also utilizes youth chorus (we just performed John Rutter's beautiful "Mass of the Children" for symphony, adult chorus, youth chorus, baritone and soprano).  You will have those parents, plus many grandparents and siblings.  We always invite our youth chorus to sing on the Xmas symphony/chorus concerts.  Sometimes they sing works written specifically for children's chorus and orchestra, but there are also combined adult/children works such as John Williams' Home Alone Suite, or The Polar Express, and others that have become favorites.
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