I love this time each year when the Annual Report and meeting roll around and I get to look back at the past year as a whole. I am again struck with what a wonderful group Granite State Choral Society is. GSCS is such an important part of my whole family’s lives. I continue to be proud to be a member and feel honored again to have been able to represent the group as the president over the last year.
We began our 2012 rehearsals learning a program entitled, En Masse featuring the King of Instruments. Quite a title to our program, wasn’t it? And what a fantastic program it was! We had the pleasure of singing with a very talented orchestra and of course, our very wonderful and extremely talented organist and rehearsal accompanist, Jim Bullock. I have listened to the CD from this concert over and over again and am struck by how professional we sound. Learning this very challenging music and singing it with a full orchestra was daunting at times, but all our hard work paid off in the end. Our balance was truly wonderful. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be, given our low number of singers and the full orchestra, but again, I shouldn’t have worried. GSCS is truly a force to be reckoned with when we put our minds to it!
We then changed gears and prepared a November concert in joint collaboration with the Berwick Academy Upper School Chorus entitled, Tribute: Americana. Seth had prepared each group so well for this concert, that after only one full dress rehearsal with both groups and the full orchestra we again had an impressive program. These concerts were totally different from the spring concerts, but just as beautiful and so much fun. Singing with the students was a pleasure and the concert was full of wonderful music selections that many in our audiences recognized and appreciated.
The Board of Directors continues to expand on the work that was started in the summer of 2011 with a series of Board Renewal meetings. Seth continues to challenge not only GSCS as singers, but the Board as we continue to look at our future. We have started to address our smaller 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 updating our GSCS Website to make it more professional looking, and by expanding our community footprint through community service events and publicity. We are hopeful that these efforts will help GSCS to attract more singers. In the spring we had 32 singers. This was down 6 singers from Spring semester of last year and in the fall we had 36 singers. This was up 5 singers from the Fall semester of last year. Looking at our numbers today we currently show that we have 33 singers. Although we seem to have a much bigger sound during concerts than those numbers imply, it does put some pressure on each section to try for a larger sound, and more importantly a well-blended, balanced sound.
We are continuing to work to make the GSCS Board of Directors a stronger and more defined entity to better serve the needs of the group. To this end we have established a sub-committee to do a By-Laws review and revision this upcoming year. We encourage you to contact any board member if you ever have a question, problem, or suggestion. We have discovered through this Board Renewal process that we definitely do some things well, and that there is always room for improvements.
Another area that we focused on last year was fund raising. We have enjoyed being to be able to add instrumentalist to each of our concerts, and in fact, are becoming 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 play with us!! Not a bad thing to be known for, BUT, it does cost money!! The Board has turned its focus to Corporate Sponsors and Instrumentalist Sponsors. Last year we made a big push and developed a Corporate Sponsor packet to be taken to our local businesses. Through this push last year we had two Corporate Sponsors and two Instrumentalist Sponsors! We hope to do even better this year. The Board also has tried hard to continue to provide a wide variety of fundraisers to help get everyone’s participation, but we are still seeing only a small percentage of members participate in our fundraising efforts. This is something that we would like 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 revamped our whole 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. We have activated a Pay Pal account to make 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 a calendar, solo information, midi files and 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 had a great time again with our Community Sing day on December 8th. We had good participation from our singers that traveled from Colonial Hill in Rochester to Langdon Place in Dover, to Bellamy Fields in Dover and then to Strawbery Banke. All the places that we visited enjoyed the traditional Christmas carols that we presented. It was a cold evening at Strawbery Banke, as usual, but what a fantastic way to share our music!! I love the crowds, the candles, the lights, the decorations and who doesn’t like the Cider House!!!
- We enjoyed being on (and off) the stage at the Rochester Opera House for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce After-Hours event.
And lastly, I would like to extend an extra thank you to the following people:
- Thanks to Donna Downes who works hard every year to put together our Annual Report Booklet for this meeting.
- Thanks to Ken Manning and David Manning for all the concert set up, riser mover, and positioning help at each concert.
- Thanks to Jim Bullock who always goes above and beyond in helping us prepare for our concerts.
- Thanks to the board of directors that work tirelessly to make sure that things get done and that we keep being successful. I also appreciate all the extra time and efforts they have put into this Renewal process. Current board members are: Kate Clarke (2013), Jennifer Sakash (2013), Laura Lundborn (2013), 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), 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!!
I look forward to another fantastic year of renewal, hard work, music, friendship and laughter.
Karen L. Manning
Granite State Choral Society