Choir on Tap
Author: Jeffery Wall, Artistic Director & Conductor
I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a grappling/wrestling martial art that specializes in fighting from the ground with finishing submissions like blood chokes, joint locks, etc. Our training usually occurs in gyms or jiu-jitsu academies. A local academy @balancedbodiesbjj, led by Black Belt, Thomas Williams (and an affiliate of @tritonfightcenter where I train) was hosting a seminar event. The seminar consisted of multiple guest black belts showing techniques and the attendees would drill the techniques. The unique thing about this particular seminar was that it was held in a local craft brewery and they called it “Chokes & Barley”. Mats were placed in the brew room and afterward, everyone enjoyed camaraderie, libations from the tap room, and local fare from a food truck. It got me thinking and rekindled an idea I had abandoned a few years ago. I had never thought of marrying these two things and it was a successful event that checked all the boxes of why I love training jiu-jitsu: the intensive, cerebral, physically and mentally demanding art of jiu-jitsu with the social aspect – the brother and sisterhood – the human connection of enjoying one another’s company over a shared beverage and/or meal.
One thing you should know about me is that I get bored easily with the same thing year in, year out – “squirrel!” I need some sort of new project or innovation going on in my life about every 3 years to scratch that itch and keep things interesting. Vox Solaris came about in that way, though I hate to describe it as an “itch.” It was a communal need, but I needed it maybe more than anyone else. I direct my university choirs and act as chair of our Department of Music. Those duties were keeping me plenty busy and I love working with my students, but something was missing. I was missing the camaraderie of making music just because I wanted to, not because I had to connected with a university course. Vox Solaris was born and we’ve been going strong, making new friends, and making great music since June 2017. We’re not quite at 3 years, but close enough…let’s change things up a bit.
I am also guilty of this dissatisfaction with pattern in my “day job” at the university. For several years, I ran an annual concert that I called, “Music in the Rough.” I love the idea of taking traditional choral music and placing it in non-traditional spaces. The first year, the University Singers performed in the service bay garage of a local Ford dealership. The next year, we performed in a vacant area of a shopping mall, next to a closed down Sear’s department store. The final year, we performed in a community center recreation gym. These concerts were well attended and a lot of fun. After 3 of them, I abandoned the idea and started pursuing other things for my university groups like trips, tours, and conference performances. After this recent bjj seminar and the rekindling of this idea, I think it’s time to spin it and try it with Vox Solaris.
I love the unknown and want to try new and risky things. I have this fascination with where I think classical music is going (choral music included in that). I’m sorry, but I don’t think it is the concert hall, though that still has its place. I think classical musicians have to stop being so stuffy, expecting audiences to come to them. I am all about going and finding our audience. I hope the audience we have built will come along for the journey, but I also hope we can “tap” a new audience base and introduce the choral art to a whole different crop of people by bringing the music to them. With all of that said and with the blessing of the Vox Solaris Chamber Choir Society and Board, I am happy to announce our Summer 2019 concert venue will be: @welltownbrewing 114 W. Archer St., Tulsa in the @bradyartsdistrict - Their brew space will be the perfectly unusual place for a traditional choir concert on June 28th at 7:30 p.m. Come join us for some music and have a beer with us afterwards. All ages are welcome to the concert. We’re also looking for sponsors. If you’d like to discuss a monetary sponsorship or have some goods/services that might be of use in-kind, contact me at info(at)voxsolaris.net – I’d be glad to chat with you about it. We would use your branding on all of our media in reciprocation.
P.S. – I have to say a quick thank you to @stpatsba for hosting us these past 3 concerts in BA. Broken Arrow will always be our headquarters and if they’ll have us, I’m sure we’ll be back to St. Patrick’s. Thanks Revs. Shelby Scott & Spencer Brown, choir director & organist, Nick Wilson, their Parish Administrator, Suzanne Shepherd, and all the staff and parishioners for all the hospitality and warmth.
Season 2: great expectations
We have launched! So how do we keep this thing in the air?
As we round the bend into our second season, starting with this upcoming summer concert, that IS the question. How do we keep this thing going? The answer isn’t simple. We leapt with faith into our inaugural summer concert nearly a year ago. The singers and I had so much fun. We felt like we demonstrated that to the audience as well. We did it a second time in the winter and it was even MORE fun! So, with the full support of the ensemble and seemingly our audience, we now embark on our second season.
You can expect some great music at this first concert. It has a little bit of something for everyone. We will sing French chanson, German Romantic art song, American folk song, musical theater in a jazz style, and even some light-hearted fun pieces! Join us!
Now fully incorporated, with non-profit status, and a clear mission, we go to work! We submitted our first ever grant proposal. Having never done that, it was a learning process. We intend to submit a few more, but we’ll see how this one goes and try to get some feedback from our first try. If you have some experience with that and would like to give us some pointers, we welcome the direction.
Once operating costs are covered, we would like to start a scholarship program. We have a few university music students on our singer roster from Northeastern State University and the University of Tulsa. The goal is to have them continue to sing with us and to help them out a little with their education. The hope is to pass along experience to these students, working side-by-side with music professionals in a high-caliber ensemble. If you’d like to help out with this endeavor, feel free to contact us or donate at our website. www.voxsolaris.net
We have some great ideas for the future. There are many possibilities depending on our resources. The folks at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Broken Arrow have been so hospitable about donating their space for our concerts. It is a beautiful church and the people are just as beautiful. I encourage you to go visit them if you are looking for a place of worship. We could do so many wonderful things with music selection, artist fees, instrumental accompaniment, expanded marketing, print collateral, choral collaborations, etc. with more resources. Honestly, it’s tough. We ask for your help. Set back a few bucks that you might normally spend on coffee or a daily soda and support us as we bring the arts to our community. If you like what we’re doing or can empathize with our mission, I encourage you to attend our concerts, buy a ticket, donate as you are able, follow us on social media, share our posts, and help us to continue this special journey. Help us connect souls through singing and enlighten the human condition.
Just a side note: support your local teachers with your vote. Elect legislators that will support education and the arts. Many of our singers are public and private school music teachers. Give them the tools they need to educate our children while making a decent living wage commensurate with their skills and education. Help teachers to have the resources necessary to teach kids HOW to think, be creative, and be successful humans in this complicated world.
Artistic Director & Trustee
Conductor, Co-Founders, Singers, and other stakeholders as guests.