letters to PCC: programming

R – Some of you have asked me from time to time about how I program for our concerts together. Great question! There are several factors I incorporate when selecting the music that ends up in our folders each term:

  • I try to include at least some literature that PCC and/or York High School already has in its library. I think it is good to revisit past material to see what we can find new in it, plus it saves us thousands of dollars (literally!) to access music we already own.
  • I try to make the front half of the program heavier and more “serious”, with the back half being a bit lighter and incorporating literature that’s a change of pace and requires a different type of choral discipline (jazz, Broadway, gospel, spiritual, etc). This allows us to enjoy some variety in our concert program while improving our skills at a wider variety of styles.
  • I try to find a balance of “rigor”. For each “Storm is Passing Over”, I try to program a Basler “Alleluia” to go at the opposite end of the spectrum. All in all I strive to select literature that is relatively challenging for you, literature that is relatively straight forward to sing musically, and then fill the rest of the program with every base covered in between.

The teacher in me has a hard time not coming up with an educational agenda to each song as well, but I believe you continue to grow through each selection and its unique demands without planning ahead for it any more. As for selecting music people might “enjoy”, I found over the years by polling my students and my first Community Choir in Vermont, the top vote getters for “favorite” song were the SAME titles as their LEAST favorite songs! Consequently I’ve ceased to program music for the sake of popularity… it’s just too imperfect a science, and especially so in a chorus of 100+ and hundreds more in our audience. But I continue to hang my hat on the hope that if the three factors above are adequately met, our programs end up being at least a sufficient representation of our skills as well as an accurate reflection of our love for the choral art!

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2 Responses to letters to PCC: programming

  1. Scott Lounsbury says:

    Oh so true; and so timely, as I was just having this conversation with my community chorus. Love it, Rob! Thank you.

  2. Pingback: letters to PCC: programming | Goober Music Teachers | Studio News

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