Small church choirs
Date: June 24, 2012
Allow me to introduce myself.
Briefly, I'm from the UK, a choral singer (with a large symphony chorus) and I also direct a chamber choir of about 25 singers and a very small church choir. In recent years I've also taken to writing quite a bit of choral music (including some hymns!)
I've recently started looking at some of the interesting and informative posts on ChoralNet, and have joined a couple of the 'communities'. I thought it would be good to join the 'Music in Worship' one, as I'm certainly very involved in this! (I sometimes play the organ as well, but am not the 'main' organist. Our church choir consists of a handful of very committed and enthusiastic people, who arrive every Sunday at 9.30, at which time I have to decide on anthem for the service (which follows at 10.30!) The choice depends on a number of factors, but is somewhat limited by who actually turns up. We may or may not have any men, we may or may not have anyone able to sing tenor or alto - so there is no point in setting one's heart on doing an SATB piece unless I'm sure that there will be at least one reliable person on each line! Flexibility is the name of the game. Naturally I've used my own settings and arrangements from time to time, but often I have to arrange things 'on the hoof'. In spite of these limitations, people in the congregation often comment on how much they have enjoyed or been uplifted by the choir's contribution to the service.
My impression of church choirs in the USA is that they are usually quite large (the ones I've seen anyway! but I imagine there must also be some very small choirs like ours around. I don't know if it would make an interesting topic for discussion to examine the role of the small choir in worship, including the challenges people have faced and the strategies that people have found useful.
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