The State of Choral Music Around the World, Circa 2023. To begin the 2023 season of this podcast we journey around the globe to gain an understanding of choirs, audiences, repetoire and innovation in choral music. Philip surveyed his network to gain perspective from choral leaders, including:
• Simon Halsey, Chorus Director – City of Birmingham (England) Symphony Chorus
• Jorge Cordoba, radio program: Horizontes de Nuestra Música (Mexico)
• Reijo Kekkonen, publisher of Finnish choral music - Sulasol
• Jonathan Velasco, Senior Lecturer, University of Philippines College of Music
• Virginia Bono, Founder and Artistic Director, Estudio Coral Meridies (Argentina)
• Yoshi Egawa, Deputy Secretary-General, Japan Choral Association
Both choirs and audiences are coming back, but slowly, worldwide. Within Philip’s network, he’s estimating audiences returning to roughly 60-75% of pre-Covid levels, as of early 2023.
Interestingly, in both Finland and especially the U.S. there’s been a shift in ticket purchasing—from season tickets and per event tickets sold months in advance to much shorter purchasing windows. The average is now just a few weeks, and often day-of purchasing, which is impacting the ability for choral organizations to plan financing of choral programs effectively.
Choirs are also curious about and embracing more diverse sources of repetoire. In Mexico there’s a resurgence in interest in pre-Hispanic sounds and instruments.
And in a nod to the value of continuous innovation, Philip encourages young choral musicians to, “Be curious—See what’s out there, and what’s out there may not be brand new...it may be somthing that was written 100 years ago.”And to conclude, Philip’s assessment of the state of choral music globally is: It is thriving, growing and embracing a wider range of music, in great part because, “Everyone needs music in their life for their own soul and for their own well being.”
We closed out this episode with a snippet of Felix Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), performed by the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers featuring Nicholas Chalmers, tenor, JoAnna Johnson, soprano, Elsa Buck, soprano II, and orchestra conducted by Artistic Director & Founder Philip Brunelle—recorded at Benson Great Hall, Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN on Saturday, October 15, 2022.