Not being a regular concert-goer myself (there aren’t that many world music choirs around here other than the ones I lead!), I often wonder why people make the effort to go to concerts. What is it that they look at? I went to an orchestral concert once and got thoroughly bored (even though I loved the music) as the seat was uncomfortable and there was nothing to look at save a sea of identical-looking violinists in the far distance (we had cheap seats!) sawing their violins in unison. So I shut my eyes to focus on the music, then wondered why I hadn’t simply stayed at home and listened to a CD: the seats are more comfortable and the drinks cheaper!
I’m personally fed up with seeing choirs and singing groups just standing on stage singing (and – if they can get their noses out of their books – occasionally looking at us). If I make the effort to go out to a live concert, then I want all my senses to be stimulated, especially my aural AND visual senses. And yet in most concerts – sung or otherwise – there is simply nothing to see! This issue has been on my mind a lot of late and I am trying to do something about it. One of my aims next year is to make our choir concerts more theatrical, to try to find different ways of presenting each song mainly through different physical configurations of singers on stage, but also through lighting and other theatrical devices.
So I’m hoping that some of you out there who regularly make up audiences can enlighten me as to what the attraction of going to a concert is. Apart from the applause (or not!) after each song, the fact that audiences seem to want to keep coming back, and the rare comment in our comments book, we don’t tend to get much feedback as to our choice of repertoire, presentation, audience involvement, length of concert, etc. I’m rather flying blind and hoping that what we have to offer is attractive. Maybe if I tweaked things a little we would get better audiences? So do tell: what is it that you get from going to a concert that you don’t get by staying at home and listening to a (possibly live) CD?
There is, of course, something else that the audience can look at whilst we’re singing, and that is the programme. More on this next week (What are you looking at PART TWO)!