The Vanderbilt Community Chorus Handbook
This handbook will outline the expectations for membership in our organization.
The chorus was founded in January 2000, with a group of faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Vanderbilt University and the Nashville community. The auditioned members of the chorus share a love of music and a commitment to excellence. Many thanks to our musical director, David Williams and our accompanist, Polly Brecht.
Lecturer in Aural Studies
B.M., M.M. (Indiana) M.M. (Cincinnati) E-mail
David has been conducting the Vanderbilt Community Chorus since the fall of 2008. He also conducts the Vanderbilt Concert Choir, a group of about 75 students of all majors. He holds an undergraduate degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington and graduate degrees in Music Theory and Choral Conducting from Indiana and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. As a faculty member of the Blair School of Music, he also teaches courses in Music Theory. Before coming to Vanderbilt, David worked in the music business, writing and producing music for nationally-broadcast TV and radio commercials. He has also served on the faculty of Middle Tennessee State University and Belmont University. A Nashville native, David has both directed and sung in numerous choirs in the Nashville and Cincinnati areas.
Polly Brecht is organist/music associate at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. She holds degrees in piano and organ performance as well as the Performer's Certificate from Indiana University, a doctorate in organ performance and a certificate in harpsichord from Florida State University. An active performer, Dr. Brecht has served on the faculties of Middle Tennessee State University and Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt.
The mission of the Vanderbilt Community Chorus is to foster and share the art of choral music, as well as to serve our community, through the pursuit of choral excellence in repertoire and performance.
To improve and grow as a choir, we continually strive to recruit eager, talented singers. We accept new members twice a year but we recruit at all times. We are a dedicated core of members who are enthusiastic about our mission and our choral involvement is an important priority in our lives. Our conductor leads us in growing artistically and we encourage one another in the development of joyful music. We work toward increasing awareness of our choir by publicizing our concerts, auditions, and choir news using a multifaceted approach.
The chorus maintains a website that communicates our mission, goals, leadership and membership as well as provides the community with information about our upcoming concerts. Please visit the site frequently at www.vanderbilt.edu/community-chorus.
To create an effective and stable financial base for our choir, we build on our revenue from semester dues of $45.00 and are grateful for the financial support of friends and the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.
Commitment to Rehearsal
Attendance at weekly rehearsals is compulsory. Being present ensures that members are familiar with the notes, dynamics, phrasing, blend, and balance. A choir member who is completely prepared will have a more meaningful personal experience and will be more capable of enriching others through song.
Responsible choir members exhibit a commitment to communication. If an absence is necessary, please notify Emily Sherman (email@example.com). There may be times when unforeseen circumstances prevent attendance. In these rare instances, two absences will be permitted per semester. In the event that a member is absent from a dress rehearsal however, performance in the concert may be precluded, at the discretion of the director. Members who find that their schedules cannot accommodate the attendance requirement should discuss a leave of absence with the director.
Rehearsal and Performance Calendar
Commencing on Sept 11th, we rehearse on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at the Choral Rehearsal Hall, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University located at 2400 Blakemore Avenue. Typically, we perform three major concerts per year – one in the fall, and two in the spring. All our performances are free and open to the public and are held in the Martha Rivers Ingram Performance Hall at the Blair School of Music. We perform smaller concerts at other times of year and sing seasonal holiday carols upon request. The chorus gathers socially throughout the year and officially begins the fall season with a pot-luck meal in September. We conclude the semester with a festive holiday reception and we culminate the spring semester with an outdoor family picnic with games, awards, and the Annual Egg Toss Competition for the much-coveted Championship Trophy.
Weekly Rehearsal Guidelines
Rehearsals begin promptly at 7:00 p.m., and members are expected to arrive early. The time prior to rehearsal is best used to arrange music in rehearsal order (as written on the board) so that the chorus can move directly from piece to piece. Upon arrival, sign the attendance roster on the piano, pick up any new music or rehearsal aids, and check the seating chart. Refreshments are scheduled periodically during rehearsal breaks to foster fellowship. Members are welcome to volunteer to provide refreshments and/or baked goods for the break.
The parking lots surrounding Blair are zoned "parking by permit only" and members will be ticketed without the proper permit. The nearest appropriate parking lot is at the Harris Hillman school, directly across Blakemore Avenue from Blair.
Location of Rehearsals and Performances
Rehearsals are held in the Choral Rehearsal Hall: from the main entrance, proceed beyond Turner Recital Hall and turn left; go to the end of the hall and the rehearsal room is on the right.
Concerts are held in the Martha Rivers Ingram Performance Hall at the Blair School of Music.
Many of our concerts are enhanced by brass or orchestral accompaniment. While these rehearsals are usually longer than the weekly rehearsals, they are crucial to performance success. Please allow plenty of time to place the music in concert order before rehearsal begins. There is much to do in little time, so make every effort to be prompt.
We are very visible on stage so the way we conduct ourselves is important. Our deportment during concerts sets the tone for the entire event. We endeavor to project a sense of excitement, unity, and uniformity from the moment we enter until the performance concludes. Music folders are carried in the right hand when entering or leaving the stage. Once in place on the risers, step forward so that those in back have suitable space to open their folders. Stand tall and comfortably. Take all cues from the director, particularly when opening and closing the folders. Be conscious of turning the music pages quietly.
The focus should be drawn to the music and its message rather than on individual members of the chorus. Members provide their own concert attire within the following guidelines.
Avoid flamboyant jewelry or accessories (e.g., hair bows, wraps) which call attention to the individual. For the comfort of all choir members, please do not wear perfume or cologne in rehearsal or performance. Wear comfortable black shoes for long periods of standing.
Black Tuxedos, white tuxedo shirt, black ties, cummerbunds.
Floor-length black dresses or skirts; tops with sleeves (no bare shoulders or spaghetti straps); avoid heavy sequins, fur collars, or colored trim.
Music and Folder Return
Printed music is a valuable resource so we ask that each member treat it with care. Make sure all music is returned to Brenda Summar (our librarian) following the concert. Place music and folders in the appropriate location in the rehearsal hall and remember to remove all personal items from the folders.
Commitment to Musicianship
Although musicians in the chorus are at varying levels of musical experience, certain disciplines apply to everyone.
Listen to the director. It is very important for every chorister to watch and listen to the director concerning dynamics, phrasing, rhythm, and tempo. Make pencil notations in the music where needed.
Listen to the choir. Attentive listening is the key to sensitive voice blending and accurate intonation which ultimately result in an ideal choral sound.
Practice good posture. Good posture is vital. An upright posture encourages fine singing and promotes attentiveness. Sit at the front of the chair with feet flat on the floor. Keep the back straight, neck and head held in line with the spine, chest held high, shoulders relaxed, with arms holding music up in line of vision with the director.
Drink water. Staying well-hydrated is essential to maintaining the voice in good condition. Feel free to bring a water bottle to rehearsals if desired.
We know that time is valuable, and we are committed to making the time together as pleasant, productive, and meaningful as possible. Rehearsals begin and end promptly on schedule and are carefully prepared to make effective use of our limited rehearsal time. Concert schedules are usually designed a year in advance so that singers can mark their calendars and plan ahead.
Members are provided with music and a choral folder for performances. A sufficient number of copies of the pieces are purchased or borrowed so that copyright law is obeyed. These copies are not intended to become part of any member's personal music collection and must be returned to the librarian at the end of the concert.
Pertinent choral announcements are made at each rehearsal but email is the major format for communicating information between rehearsals. It is essential for each member to ensure that their email address is current and to notify the director of changes. We will verify addresses and email accounts during the first few rehearsals each semester. We publicize our chorus through the Vanderbilt Community Chorus website: www.vanderbilt.edu/community-chorus
We are committed to performing the best of choral music and we choose literature accordingly. For many of our concerts, an orchestra or brass ensemble is engaged, thereby enhancing the performance experience.
Members are carefully chosen using such criteria as talent, expertise, dedication, a cooperative spirit, and a love of music. Mutual cooperation and respect among the members are the cornerstones of our success.
The leadership assists David in guiding the chorus toward its mission and goals. Service as an officer of the chorus is strictly voluntary.
The 2012/2013 Executive Board of the Vanderbilt Community Chorus working with the Director, David Williams, includes
Barry Heard - president - firstname.lastname@example.org
David Linn - email@example.com
Carolyn Naumann - firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen Schlacter - email@example.com
Ben Troxler - firstname.lastname@example.org
We are very grateful to the following individuals for their assistance.
Brenda Summar - Librarian
Janet Noble - Historian
Lanena Moore - Historian (1952-2008)