Jeff Wall, conductor & co-founder.
I am about to leave to give a presentation at the College Music Society’s national conference in San Antonio about social media and how blogs are the “tip of the spear” in content marketing for music event promotion and recruiting. I realized that I haven’t really kept up here with this blog. It’s been busy!!! I figured I had better practice what I preach, so here we go.
As you can read in our last blog entry, we had a fantastic inaugural performance in July. Since that was just a trial run, I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was enthusiastic about giving this a “go” as a real, organized choral ensemble. Several of the singers are music educators in the public schools. They operate on the academic calendar year. I do as well in higher education. Therefore, our performance model revolves around a biannual performance schedule – one in the summer and one in the winter.
I am fully committed to making this happen as long as the singers want to continue. I did, however, need to put “Vox” on the back-burner for a while as I focused on my day job. I had to get back into the swing of things as our fall semester was ramping up at NSU. I tried to do a little bit of work on Vox Solaris stuff when I got a moment here or there in between my other duties. I finally got around to putting out the call for participation and commitment for this 2nd concert in the winter. I was pleasantly surprised that we had a few more singers interested than even last time. Not a whole lot more, but a few. Some singers are returning and some are newbies.
Now that I knew what voice parts I could feasibly cover, I had to somehow find the time to select music. When I finally had a free weekend, I spent it culling through huge stacks of music. Selecting appropriate repertoire is the largest part of any choral director’s job. In the summer, I told the singers that I really didn’t want to do a holiday themed concert. I knew our concert would be in December, but I had a strong feeling at the time that everyone else would be doing holiday music. Why would anyone want to come to another holiday concert that we were performing? I just surrendered to the fact that we would do “regular” repertoire. Then, I listened to a few music and choral podcasts as I normally do on my commute (I know. I’m a choir nerd). The podcaster and person being interviewed brought up a good point. The person being interviewed was someone well-respected in the choral community. He mentioned going down the same path of thinking that I was about not wanting to do a holiday concert during the holidays. But, then he was convinced otherwise through conversations that a non-holiday concert during the holidays seems out of place. People actually do want to hear holiday music during the holidays. I thought long and hard about that and finally concluded that I agreed. So, long story long, I opted to go with holiday selections for the concert after all. I put all of the music packets together with rehearsal notes and part assignments and sent them out to the singers.
Now that the singers were committed and music was selected, I need to get to work on our 501(c)(3) non-profit status. We have an ad hoc board, but again, all on the board are educators and wrapped up in our own day jobs teaching students. It is very difficult – no…IMPOSSIBLE to get together during the semester – or communicate AT ALL. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I’m done with a day, I crash. I’m not sure the general population understands how much of a life-suck being a musician is. Don’t get me wrong – I love it, but we put so much of our soul into our craft that it is physically and emotionally draining. We devote so much more time to it than any sane, normal person would in a different discipline. I digress. So, I’ve been trying to do some research about registering a non-profit on my own in my vast amounts of free time (*sarcasm). As a musician, we all have to have somewhat of an entrepreneurial spirit. After all, we are always designing t-shirts, concert posters, cultivating donors, stakeholders, promoting on social media, selling tickets, etc. However, I have never personally been very good at paper work. Oh my God – the paperwork. State level, federal level, charitable organization registration, articles of incorporation, by-laws, EIN registration, signatures, Secretaries of State, bank accounts, etc….I have no knowledge of these things. I just want to get together with this great group of people and make music!
It is currently impacting all levels of forward motion on this little chamber choir we have going here. It costs money to put on a concert, but we can’t ask for tax exempt donations until this stuff is done. We can’t sell ads in our program until we have our status granted. We can’t SELL TICKETS until status is granted. If we can’t do these things, then we can’t pay for licensing. (Did you know that anytime you hear music in concert or hear it at a restaurant, or on an elevator, or at a football stadium, a license must be in place?). There are several other expenses and we’re currently still in the hole a bit. I’m the kind of person that will commit do doing something and then figure out how to make it happen. I’m still figuring out how to make it happen. Yeah, I’m at that stage.
The silver lining? I thought we were doomed when our original venue fell through. After making many phone calls and emails, we were very fortunate that St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Broken Arrow has agreed to host us. I’m so looking forward to working with these beautiful humans again and we hope you will join us on this journey at our next concert. Come hell or high water, we will figure this out and our concert will be December 21st. In the meantime, if you know more than I do about incorporation, registering EINs, 501(c)(3) status, etc., and would be willing to help, please (PLEASE) contact me. I’d be glad for the help.