“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Mattie Stepanek
Does your choral organization collaborate? I’m sure you occasionally work with other music groups, such as your school’s orchestra or band or perhaps your local symphony. Do you ever think outside of the box with your collaborations? I was sitting in a meeting of an arts alliance organization a few weeks ago and someone mentioned the collaboration of two performing arts organizations. The collaboration was pretty typical; an orchestra and choral organization. It got me thinking about other kinds of collaborations. My ears always perk up when I hear a new collaboration idea and I’d like to share some with you.
Art museums are hosting concerts; everything from string quartet concerts to rock concerts. There are also dance companies of all sorts, performing at galleries and museums, adding yet another layer in this collaboration model. Sometimes, the concerts are held in specific galleries with the music and dance reflecting the art. Sometimes, the art and music and dance have nothing to do with each other. These audiences draw patrons from the museums and patrons of the performing groups. Each group of patrons is being introduced to something new, and widens with each new collaboration. “Pictures at an Exhibition” could be, in fact, a reality for a performing arts organization pairing with a visual arts organization.
Museums and galleries are not the only ones trying new types of collaborations. Many symphonies have multi-media concerts; sometimes projecting movies, playing sound tracks live. Or, they program new works with another component, such as science or astronomy, which could be part of the performance. Choral organizations have dance troops perform with them or an actor or theater group might be part of a concert. Caricaturists or other visual artists have been invited to draw musicians while a concert is going on, with the finished works being auctioned off or made part of future PR material. There are several chamber groups I know of who play at historically significant homes, playing music which would have been played when the home was first built.
I would love to do a concert of motets in a place of worship with interesting or significant stained glass windows. With my chamber choir, this concert concept is certainly possible. In my concept, the motets would reflect the subjects of the windows; perhaps we would sing in front of each and there would be a pre-concert lecture by an expert on the windows. I think this would be a great collaboration between art form and music form.
A while back, a symphony I’m involved with had fund raisers called “Musical Feasts.” Each ‘feast’ was held at someone’s home, featuring music of some sort, paired with food. People who didn’t know about the symphony were introduced to the organization simply because they wanted to attend one of the events. One year, someone hosted the event in their fabulous garden, had yummy barbecue and a dulcimer ensemble. The next year, the same host had a Blue Grass band with all sorts of vegetable dishes. Someone else hosted a string quartet with a soup and salad buffet. One person had Spanish food and flamingo guitars. There was a moveable-musical feast, with guests going to a certain home for appetizers and music, another for an entrée and music and a final home for dessert and music. I love the idea of food and music; these were wonderful and fun events.
In the twenty-first century, we have to be willing to try something different to keep our audience engaged. With all sorts of competition for people’s attention, the old models no longer work as well as they did, if they ever did. Does your choral organization collaborate with different kinds of groups? Please share your ideas!