If you are a choral music geek, then you probably know about the annual Chorus America Conference — a choral love-fest and learning/networking opportunity. The conference is held in a different city each year and is generally hosted by the largest choral organization in each locale. This year the 4-day event was held in Los Angeles, with the LA Master Chorale acting as the major host. These conferences don’t usually admit dogs, but Mr. Peanut is a dog-person and the mascot for Long Beach Camerata Singers. These credentials qualified him to attend, albeit under cover.
Chorus America is a non-profit organization that serves choral groups in the United States with research, articles, advocacy and the annual conference. It is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Visit their website to see their extraordinary offerings: https://www.chorusamerica.org
The conference offered many educational opportunities. Each day featured a variety of breakout sessions on such topics as marketing, fundraising, entrepreneurship, social media, composing and many, many more. There was also a series of opportunities called “buttonholes,” when you could confer with experts from many organizations one-on-one. Another excellent session featured 20-minute roundtables hosted by experts in a variety of areas; I was able to participate in 3 different tables.
Every morning started with the “Morning Sing,” each led by a different conductor. For singers, this is the best way to get energized and motivated early in the day. The Sings included warm-ups, sight-reading, a little dancing, and a lot of exuberance.
On Friday Morning we were treated to a plenary session featuring Vijay Gupta of the LA Philharmonic as the speaker. He spoke passionately about his work with his non-profit organization, StreetSymphony.org, which brings classical music to homeless people in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. The program has expanded to include choral music. Very, very inspiring.
Friday ended with a very nice dinner that included a great deal of roasting fellow choral comrades, horsing around, and skits. It also included many toasts, both humorous (thank you, Peter Rutenberg) and fond (thank you, Marie Bucoy-Calavan). Don’t let these highly educated, classical music people fool you for a second: they party like there’s no concert or rehearsal tomorrow — that is, with great enthusiasm and spirit.
Thank you Chorus America! See you next year in Chicago!