Monday, December 05, 2022

What is the right balance between new and old songs in your annual concert?

Many choirs are gearing up for their annual Christmas concert.

photo by Dick Thompson

Do you repeat the same songs each year or add new ones to your repertoire? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

I read a recent blog post by Adam Paltrowitz entitled 8 Reasons I Repeat the Same Holiday Choir Music Every Year. He’s writing from the perspective of high school choirs, but it did get me thinking.

Is it OK to sing the same songs every year in your annual concerts?

I used to think that we should do a completely fresh programme whenever we returned to a particular venue. But one day, after a concert, an audience member came up to me and asked why we hadn’t sung a particular song that she’d heard at our concert the year before.

She had loved some of the songs so much that year, that she was looking forward to hearing some of them again. That had never occurred to me!

I’m always worried that the singers, and our audiences, would get bored if we kept trotting out the same old material.

And they probably would if we did exactly the same programme each time. Which is why I now think it’s a good idea to have a balance of old and new at an annual concert.

Maybe Christmas is different though.

As Paltrowitz points out, repeating songs at each Christmas concert helps to create a sense of tradition. It also minimises the amount of time that singers have to learn new material each year. At Christmas most audience members expect to hear familiar songs, so why disappoint them?

My strategy at Christmas for the community choirs that I ran was to add one, or at most two, new Christmas songs each year. We would revisit the ones we already knew, and add one or two new ones each year.

That meant that we didn’t have begin rehearsing Christmas songs in June (!), that new members would have a chance to catch up, and having taking the trouble to learn songs that are only appropriate at one time of the year, we didn’t want to abandon them.

What does your choir do? Do you sing the same songs each year?

other posts

You might find these older posts of interest too.

Choosing the right songs for a concert

Sometimes old is best – finding the balance between new and familiar

Why my choir doesn’t sing carols at Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year — so when to learn all the carols?

Chris Rowbury


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