I love this time of year when we can, as an organization, look back over the past year. This gives us a great opportunity to look at all the positive things about GSCS and look at the things that we may need to improve on.
I am again struck by how wonderful it is to be a part of this group. I love to come to practice every week and listen to the chatter of friends catching up with friends before rehearsals begin, at break time and after rehearsals are over. I love to hear the music that we are singing for the semester as it improves with each practice from the first time we sight-read a piece, to the culmination at our concerts. What a sense of pride we all should feel as we present such great music to our equally great audiences.
This last year was filled, in my eyes, with some incredibly special music. We really explored our Spanish “style” with our spring concert, ¡CANTA! Who didn’t enjoy those Spanish beats and rhythms and the lovely Spanish language? This group is always willing to embrace learning different languages and styles of music. What fun!!! Then we got to switch gears completely with our fall concert, CELEBRATION! Antonín Dvořák’s Mass in D major, Opus 86 was one of the loveliest pieces of music I have ever heard. Unfortunately, due to the power outage, we don’t have a recording of this, but I know that personally I was touched deep down in my soul by the feeling and love we put into presenting this piece. That is a selection that I will never forget.
The Board of Directors continues to expand on its work to keep GSCS moving forward. We have seen some growth from our push last year to focus on increasing our numbers. In the spring of the previous year we had 32 singers, while this last spring semester we had 34 members, and in the fall of the previous year we had 36 singers, while this last fall we had 40 members. Looking at our numbers today we currently have 43 singers. It is nice to see this upward trend continue!! We will continue to address our numbers of singers by pushing our pre-publicity for each semester, by asking questions of singers that have left the group to discern their reasons for leaving, by adding more and continued collaborations with instrumentalist and other singers, by continuing our GSCS Website’s professional look, and by expanding our community footprint through community service events and publicity.
We are continuing to work with a sub-committee to complete the By-Laws review and revisions. We have finished the review of the By-Laws and have made the necessary changes. We are now in the final stages of putting everything back together for final approval by this body. We are adding/updating a Policy Manual that will be given out in tandem with the By-Laws.
Another area that we will continue to focus on is fund raising. We have continued to be able to add instrumentalist to each of our concerts, and in fact, have become known for having high quality accompaniment at all our concerts. We have instrumentalist that love and appreciate participating in our concerts. They have complimented us on our preparedness and our beautiful sound, and are actively seeking to perform with us!! Not a bad thing to be known for, BUT, it does cost money!! The Board has turned its focus to developing many different ways to fund these musicians. Corporate Sponsors, Individual Sponsors, Instrumentalist Sponsors, as well as providing a wide variety of fundraisers are going to continue, but we are still seeing only a small percentage of members participate in our fundraising efforts. This is something that we need to change. We are strongly encouraging each and every member to participate in fund raising in some manner each semester. Together we can keep GSCS functioning smoothly and keep us in the black.
Here are some positive things that happened this last year.
• Diane DeVries continues to maintain our Website and it really looks great! It continues to have a lot of great information in it, pictures of the group, recordings of GSCS to listen to, forms and history and much more. Our activated Pay Pal account is making it easier for our audience members to purchase tickets, make donations or purchase any goods. If you haven’t checked it out, you should: www.gschoralsociety.org
• The GSCS MEMBER RESOURCES link on our homepage continues to be a great resource for members. Seth continues to update this site, which includes solo information when applicable, midi files of our current semester’s music and sometimes You Tube links to aid in our home practicing, and much more.
• We have great volunteers that help to make each of our concerts a success.
• We unfortunately had to cancel our Community Sing day on December 15th, but we did have a chance to take small groups to Frisbie Memorial Hospital on a couple of separate nights to sing for the patients and staff. Very moving to be allowed into the ICU and sing for the terminally ill and critically ill patients.
• We enjoyed again being able to provide music at the Rochester Opera House for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce After-Hours event.
• Thanks to the Board of Directors, we have been able to offer Scholarships and Financial Aid to members that would not be able to sing in GSCS without it.
• We actively pursued Grant funding over the last year and will continue to do so in the upcoming year.
• We held our first Open House on Sunday, January 20th at First UCC and continued that theme this year with a Bake Sale/Pre-registration/Mini-Sing on Saturday, January 25th at Lilac Mall.
• We have been asked multiple times to sing for community service events, fund raising events, Chamber of Commerce events and more. Due to this we are going to be putting together a smaller core group of singers that have the available time to participate when we get these requests. Look for more information this coming year.
I would like to extend an extra heartfelt thank you to the following people:
• Extra thanks to Donna Downes who works hard every year to put together our Annual Report Booklet for this meeting. But she has also put in a lot of extra time this year with all the committees and activities that GSCS has been participating in.
• Thanks to Ken Manning, David Manning, Sam & Alison O’Lone, Craig Davis, Jeremiah Agea and many more for all the help with concert set up, riser moving, and positioning at each concert.
• Extra thanks to Jim Bullock who always goes above and beyond in helping us prepare for our concerts. Also, for donating his time for all the little “extras” that come up that he provides his musicianship for.
• Thanks to the board of directors that work tirelessly to make sure that things get done and that GSCS continues being successful. I also appreciate all the extra time and efforts they have put into the changes that are currently taking place at the board level. This has been a tough year of changes and growth. I appreciate all the hard work, patience, input and presence that the board has shown. Current board members are: Ken Manning (2014), David Manning (2014), Kris Ebbeson (2014), Karen Manning (2014), Donna Downes (2015), Carole Macalaster (2015), Liz Tonkins- Agea (2015), Walter Casler (2015), Carroll Stevens (2016), Jen Sakash (2016) and Seth Hurd.
• Thanks to Carole Macalaster for all her help with fundraisers and for keeping our treasurer’s reports accurate.
• Thanks to Diane for our fantastic updated website and for all the design graphics for our posters, tickets and programs.
• Thanks to Seth for being such a great music director. For working so hard, teaching us so much, inspiring us to be the best we possibly can, for always bringing us great music repertoire and for always making it fun to come to practice.
• Thanks to Jen Sakash for organizing our announcement each week and emailing them to the membership and much more behind the scenes!!
• Thanks to Liz Tonkins-Agea and Diane DeVries for spearheading the monumental task of organizing our 40th Anniversary Celebrations. Thank you for your time and dedication in working collaboratively with Nicholas White on writing lyrics for our commissioned piece, as well as launching the fundraising events to support this endeavor. You ladies are amazing.
• Thanks to the multiple people that have stepped up to help with the 40th Anniversary Celebration by jumping onto the multiple committees that were formed to make this a success.
And now I leave you with these questions:
• Do you like the direction GSCS has taken with providing instrumentalist at each concert?
• Would you participate in an In-House Vocal Workshop for a small fee?
• Is there anything that you would like to see change in GSCS?
Again, I am honored to represent GSCS as its president and look forward to another fantastic year of growth, hard work, music, friendship and laughter.
Karen L. Manning