Singing group Choral Arts of Chattanooga presents an evening of music from stage and screen centered on the theme of love at 7:30 p.m. on May 18 at Second Presbyterian Church. The organization seeks to attract a younger audience, while keeping true to the organization’s mission to perform a wide variety of choral music.
Most of the music this season has been drawn from the classical tradition, but the final concert will mainly come from Broadway shows, film, and even a Beatles song interpreted by Boyz II Men. “One of my main inspirations for this concert is to try to bring in new audience members,” explained Artistic Director Darrin Hassevoort.
Choral groups across the country have suffered from what some refer to as the “graying of American choirs.” Chorus members are aging and fewer young people are joining the ranks, so the average age is steadily rising, and participation numbers are declining as people age out. In similar fashion, audiences are graying and declining in number as well, said officials.
Conductors like Mr. Hassevoort are concerned about the future of choral music, so Choral Arts is beginning to explore avenues to connect with young people to cultivate both new singers and audience members. Programming music that will appeal to younger people is a first step. Collaborations with young singers in the 2017-2018 season will be another.
Striking a balance of satisfying the core audience, attracting new singers and audience members, while also keeping existing singers—many of whom are professionals—challenged and excited about singing is no small undertaking. But Mr. Hassevoort listens to singers’ suggestions and puts great thought into each concert. Mr. Hassevoort says the programming choices “are also driven my desire to make sure Choral Arts is honoring the visions of its founder, John Hamm, to cover a wide range of choral music.”
The May 18 concert will add a new feature with spoken word. De’Lara Khalili Stephens, an English professor from Chattanooga State, will read poetry, which along with the music, reflects the love theme. The narration leads the audience through the journey of relationships from the excitement of new love to the tumult of love gone awry and the power of a great love, said to conquer even death.
Solos, duets and choral selections will be sung from more contemporary works like Beauty and the Beast and Secret Garden as well as from standards like State Fair and West Side Story. The title of the concert, “Falling in Love,” comes from a line in the opening piece, “It’s a Grand Night for Singing.”
The evening will culminate in the song “Make our Garden Grow” from Bernstein’s Candide, which alludes to the rewards of tending love like a garden. The piece, much like love itself, rises from a soft, sweet melody into an expansive Coplandesque crescendo for an exciting end to the concert.
Admission for the concert will be $20 for adults or $10 with student ID.