Sunday, July 08, 2007

Order, order!

It’s that time of year when summer concerts come around and I have to think of a programme of songs. Selecting the songs is not too difficult as I always include all the new songs we’ve learnt this term (so new people can join in the performance), several that are relatively new to the choir (songs that we’ve learnt over the last year or so), some golden oldies which I revive from the past, and some choir and audience favourites.

However, I try and keep in mind audience members who perhaps have been to our last few concerts or maybe come just once a year to our summer concert. I don’t ever want an audience to feel that they come to the same concert each time so I try and keep ‘repeats’ to a minimum, but also balance that with the fact that it’s always nice to hear a few familiar songs. I like to think that I’ve got the balance right, but I haven’t ever had any specific feedback from audience members. I reckon that as long as there’s sufficient variety (and we do have lots of songs to choose from!) then there should be something to please everybody.

Also, WorldSong are about to release a new live CD so I’ve had to choose the songs for that. That wasn’t too difficult either as I was limited mainly by the quality of any recordings that we had (and, of course, whether we were singing in tune on that day!).

What I find harder though, having chosen the songs, is to find a suitable running order. There are many schools of thought: some people group songs from the same country or style, whilst others sprinkle the different genres throughout the concert or CD and focus on aspects such as the dynamics of a particular song, whether it is anthemic or gentle, smooth or rhythmic. I am of this latter school, although I do sometimes put two songs together if they are from the same part of the world, and maybe stick in a song with English lyrics if I feel there’s been a run of foreign ones.

I often wonder how much this matters. I spend a long time thinking of the running order for each of our concerts, and I’ve spent even longer on the new CD. But does it really matter to audiences? Do they notice the ‘journey’ through a concert, or do they just take the songs one at a time? And with the CD, people can jump about and play tracks in any order they choose, so is the running order of any importance at all? I guess I hang on to the fact that nobody has ever commented on the running order, and being the optimist that I am, I assume that means that I’m doing it right since it’s not noticeable!

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Chris Rowbury


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