2014 Area Choirs Festival Feedback

_DSC0487AREA CHOIRS FESTIVAL 2014

Our Area Choirs Festival with Presentation of Awards was held on Saturday 29 March 2014 in the Cathedral.  Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far, although there are a small number of comments for discussion as to improvements. A number of people asked to see everyone’s feedback, and for an online feedback form.  Comments are collated below and we would like to thank all those who responded; we always discuss feedback at committee level and many changes this year were as a result of previous feedback.  You will see, though, that opinions are often directly contradictory, so we can’t please everyone! Hopefully you will recognise your own comments.

General comments about Area Choirs Festivals
Fantastic idea, lovely idea, excellent, necessary to meet up with other choirs due to limitations of own choir, good way to sing in a large group. wonderful, good, a great idea to bring choirs together, good idea, lovely to sing with a much larger choir, great but needs extra rehearsals for individual choirs, lovely idea, very good and we should do it every year, excellent- please continue, fantastic idea, good, fun, good to meet other people and sing with them, wonderful to bring everyone together, I like it because people can listen to us, I like getting together with other choirs, we think it’s a good idea, perhaps a different time of year – too much to do for Holy Week and Easter, good way to meet people from the area, good for choir members to see how many other people there are with the same ideals; opportunity to sing music which is more challenging than what we can do on our own.

Organisation
Brilliant, not enough rehearsals, well organised with lots of people helping, good, I wasn’t thinking about it – I was just excited and it’s been great, not enough practices, it was the best one ever, good but couldn’t see the point of the labels, very good, very very good, not bad – disappointed nowhere to get a drink, overall very good, need more rehearsals, sort out seating so everyone can see the conductor, ok, music could be issued sooner – also a running order, regional rehearsals are very good but would like more so singing on the day is of a higher standard, rehearsals nearer the event, need to be able to see the conductor, would like rehearsals to be at weekends, fine, very well organised, before good – on the day pushed for time after rehearsal finished, excellent, rehearsal was far too long ago – music seemed new again today, ok, badly organised where we should sit and how to leave the service, trying to see the conductor apart from when his arms were raised up was impossible, we (sopranos) did not feel integrated with members as we were in the nave, better toilet facilities should be provided for choristers, the keyboard used for practice was insufficient for our needs – many could not hear it, new area selected for the choirs to perform in far too small, cramped, hot,  wearing of a huge sticker (which kept falling off) which said ADULT totally unnecessary, would rather we arrived earlier and commenced practice earlier, annoyed to hear people complaining – most people don’t realise the amount of work & organisation that goes into an event of this size, I hope no-one dared to criticise anything you did today! Marie could neither be seen well nor heard during the sectional rehearsal, quite good organisation although didn’t see why we needed the stickers, sops rehearsal on the day was very stressful because I could not see or hear Marie – no criticism of her but she should have been given a mic and a dais, chairs were close together and we had to stand sideways to try to see Marie, impossible to hold the music at the right height and distance.

Repertoire
Good, ok but complexity requires more rehearsal, rehearsal was far too long ago, perfect level for amount of rehearsal time, good idea to do some double choir items, good, a good balance, excellent, very varied, hard – could be easier for small choirs, a wide variety – good, very good, good – I knew some but not others, very good and a nice selection, good, good balance between straightforward and a challenge, brilliant, ok, amazing, interesting variety, it’s lovely, ok, great. Quite difficult and long as well as hard to learn, not something we could bring back to our own church, worth coming just to hear Ken sing the bass solo! Good, I keyed the voice parts into Sibelius with cues and produced midi and mp3 files which I sent to choir members as well as using them in rehearsal.

Favourite item
All, the hymn, mag & nunc, Stanford in C, hymn, all especially introit, Bruckner, all, Prayer of King Henry, Mag & Nunc, Ave Maria, all, Introit and Ave Maria, Stanford, Parry, Parry, Prayer of King Henry, Parry, Stanford every time!, Ave Maria, Sing we of the blessed mother, Bruckner, Ave Maria, Bruckner Ave Maria,

Any you disliked?
Hear my words – too hard and long, hard to teach Hear my words and the introit, Hear my words and Ave Maria, no, no, choristers shouldn’t say they dislike repertoire – hard luck!, no but Parry was hard work, no, no, last anthem was a bit long, no, no, no, responses, not really, nothing, none, no, no, no, no, responses, too many responses, none, no,

_DSC0480Singing part of the day
It was good, excellent, it was great, well lead, it was ok, great, good, good, epic, a bit rushed, overall sound was very good, good, better if shorter, a bit disjointed, couldn’t see the conductor in the rehearsal, rehearsal could be not as long, separate rehearsals for parts worked well, many sopranos and trebles could not hear Marie – microphone needed, wonderful, very good, learnt things, odd question – that’s why I was here!, long rehearsal without break, quire not as good as nave for sound or seeing conductor, lady choir leader was lacking people skills, excellent, I couldn’t see, great to sing with a large choir, excellent, unable to hear or see, didn’t like having to stand for the whole rehearsal, good although most songs too complex for children, Marie and Andrew rehearsed the choirs very well, more chance to sit down briefly? I enjoyed the rehearsal with Andrew and the service.

Cost
Fair, don’t know, fine, ok, not much, fine, well worth it!, fine, reasonable, good, very reasonable, good, reasonable, fine, fine, fine, ok – coach costs in addition made it expensive, fine, very good, good, I’m a child and do not know, good, very affordable, excellent, reasonable, fine.

How often should we run these festivals?
One a year, every half year, yes – 6 month-annual, every 2 years, not very often, as now-biennially, annual, every year, once a term, every two years,  every two years but maybe smaller one yearly, annually would be good, annually, every two years, about right every two years, important to hold for  presentation of awards, biennially, every year, twice a year, perhaps June/July would be better, Passiontide and Easter is a very busy time for choirs.

Other events you would like us to run
Local events, kids choir, RSCM voices, already a superior RSCM area, more local events, something more locally, more conventions like October, music workshops, visit contributing_DSC0479 choirs’ choir practices and services, workshops in Elstree sound fun, children’s groups doing choir exercises with crafts or similar, children’s choir, don’t know, more singing ones, whatever happened to Regional Evensongs?  Or Choral Matins? More modern church hymns, another safari evensong,

Additional comments
Thank you for organising this, it’s amazing, please return to the nave, too cosy with all in the quire, have a proper procession, thank you, nice to sing with a larger choir, please ask people not to talk during the voluntary, I enjoyed the event but found not being able to see the conductor hard, lack of note-bashing months ahead, toilets are still a problem, lady conductor needed to be organised beforehand and patronised individuals unprofessionally, a great shame people talked loudly and left during the voluntary, processing is a discipline otherwise it’s a shambles, a very enjoyable afternoon, wonderful to hear the cathedral choristers alone – an inspiration, very much better seating arrangement for singing than we had previously in the nave, it was all epic, vergers talked a lot during the service, an enjoyable event, with good music that was a pleasure to sing.  Jolly good! More substantial tea should be provided, this event has put some of us off singing church music, difficult to inspire our younger members, truly beautiful to go and listen to the choir in such awe-inspiring surroundings, my son really enjoyed it and I was very proud of him and the whole choir, would not bring youth choir again unless the music were more suited to them, wonderful bass soloist!  Good to hear the cathedral choir, but could we reclaim alternate festivals just for us? I think the nave would be better. Maybe processing is difficult to organise but I like to walk to the sound of the organ, and see all the different colours of robes filing by.

To answer some points people have found hard to understand –

* Stickers – in the past some choirs have brought more singers than they had paid for.  In 2012, some had photocopied the service booklet and avoided paying. We did not provide a booklet this time, and printed enough stickers for those who had paid plus a few for those who paid on the day.  We handed to each choir the number they had paid for. We should perhaps make clear to choirs that there are huge costs – hire of rehearsal churches and halls, payment of accompanists, directors and cathedral staff, and in the past – printing and copyright costs.

* Quire versus Nave – this was largely decided because at the closing date we had a smaller than usual number of entries.  However, comments have been split between those who preferred the quire and those who did not.

* Change of seating for sopranos – the cathedral staff required us to move a number of chairs to create better fire exit access.  They agreed to wait until after the rehearsal. Some sopranos didn’t hear the request to take their music as chairs had to be moved, and this resulted in confusion.  In addition, a number of people were unable to see the conductor in the rehearsal and it was necessary to ask people to swap.

* Toilets – there is only one staff toilet upstairs.  There are no cathedral choir toilets.  There are the toilets downstairs, one disabled in the south aisle, and one staff toilet upstairs.  Unfortunately that’s all there is.  Public toilets are available in town.

If you would like to leave further feedback, please comment below.  We are most interested in your comments under the headings above, about organisation, cost, repertoire, etc. to assist in our future planning.

Alternatively, you can download the feedback form given on the day ACF feedback 2014 and email it to office@rscm-stalbans.co.uk.

4 comments to 2014 Area Choirs Festival Feedback

  • zia

    Interesting that some have thought RSCM should provide refreshments…….. that has never happened before at an Area Festival. It’s an interesting idea but I wonder who would do that? And it might compound the problem of the lack of toilets!

  • Marie Price

    Hello all, I am responding to comments made about me personally. It’s true that I needed a mic and one was not forthcoming, which meant I had to raise my voice; I personally wasn’t at all disorganised. Any comments about “waiting for the lady with the hairband” etc. were very lighthearted, but may have not come across as so. I have asked my adult sops and they saw nothing amiss…. Sorry if some took me the wrong way. The situation with the soprano seating was very difficult, as said above. Some sopranos were rather territorial! We all should work together for the good of the whole massed choir, really. Many apologies to those who, despite my best efforts, were still unable to see the conductor. Thanks to those who were cooperative and did look up and do their best – which, of course, was the majority! Many thanks everyone for your feedback.

  • Vanessa

    I think the comments about Marie are a little harsh, she was simply emphasising the importance of looking at the conductor; I thought she took the sectional well. I didn’t have a problem with where we seated but I’m not particularly fussy about that kind of thing. I notice some comments about the difficulty of the music – I appreciate that smaller choirs will struggle with the repertoire however the point of events such as this is to take on different and more challenging repertoire in order to better prepare candidates for RSCM awards. Its worth noting that those who are struggling benefit from being part of the massed choir as they are supported by stronger singers. Perhaps there could be more optional rehearsals as well as the compulsory ones in order to balance the needs of more experienced/less experienced choirs.

  • Helen

    Not a fan of having the event in the Quire. It was too cramped. One thought was having the juniors split across both sides nearer to Andrew Lucas and then the sopranos split between both sides behind them, nearer to the congregation. That way all of the juniors would be able to see and may have held their concentration better if they were ‘surrounded’ by people singing. Also, the sopranos could have seen better too. It was very difficult to see Marie at the rehearsal and hear the keyboard and we were on the front row! The repertoire was ok, didn’t like Hear my Words as it was too long for the congregation to listen to and more of a concert piece. Also didn’t like the stickers, they kept falling off. However, I do see the need for people to pay for everyone. This may need rethinking for next time.