This morning I went to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to get some music -- songs I'm considering working into my upcoming cabaret (more on that to come). Sondheim and LaChiusa in hand, I decided to stop on the way out and check out the current exhibition on the main floor about the New York Choral Society ("The First Fifty Years"). I'm big on learning from our predecessors and standing on the shoulders of our ancestors -- either that or I was procrastinating going into the office... Anyway, included amongst the flower-child/psychedelic playbills for Bach and Brahms was a typewritten fundraising letter from what must have been the very first years of NYCS' existence. I really should have taken a picture. The letter described the organization's dedication to quality music and programming, and the JOY of choral singing -- and went on to say that it was that dedication, along with good, realistic business sense (I'm paraphrasing) that allowed the Choral Society to flourish and grow during a time of economic difficulty when many other similar [arts] organizations were struggling and even folding.
You can see where I'm going with this.
Having just started a chamber choir in the midst of a recession (our very first benefit event was scheduled for early October 2008 - ha!) I was particularly struck by this little bit of history, and stood there for awhile to soak it up. I'm not sure I can brag about my business sense (that's why I'm supported by a fabulous Board) but I can certainly speak for joy! and for the quality, innovation and accessibility of our musical programming. I'm always inspired to read about the Group Theater in the '30s and so many other similar stories of artists and organizations, now considered to be mainstream, that began with a dream and two pennies to rub together.
I can only hope that Choral Chameleon is able to forge such a successful path in the cultural landscape of New York City. Here's to the first fifty years!