Encouragement to Choral Music Composers
“Larry, hundreds of publishers release thousands of choral music selections every year. Does my music even stand a chance amidst the flood?”
“Dear composer, yes indeed! As my mother used to say, there is a lid for every pot!”
Check out this comprehensive survey of the choir situation in Canada. The consensus was compiled in 2017 and it claims that we had 3.5 million choristers when the Canadian population at the time was 36 million. Click the image to enlarge. (thanks to Diana Clark for the research)
Watch the short blurry video at the bottom of this page – made in 2009. (less than 4 minutes long) There were 32 million adult choristers in the USA when the population at the time was 306 million – (not counting the thousands of children’s, high school, and youth choirs) That’s more than one out of every ten people singing in a choir! The ratios in Canada are similar.
Today there are well over 330,000 choirs in North America – even after the pandemic decimation. The ratio in Europe is even higher and choirs in Asia choirs are exploding in numbers. A publisher friend in Japan told me that there are 10,000 choirs in Beijing alone – unbelievable!
So, comrades, surely there is a place for your music. Choirs seek new music every year and some of the finest music has yet to be discovered. We’ve had “sleepers”, published long ago, which suddenly take off. Cypress believes that quality choral music never grows old. So write music that is inspired and well crafted with something relevant to say – (with classic form, proper voice-leading, sweet-spot vocal registers, quality writing while being user-friendly, etc.) As Dr. Chatman would say, “make it convincing”.
I know you will concur that being a composer is a HUGE privilege and honour. But would you agree that it’s a responsibility? Imagine this: 1) You lie in bed or take a walk and imagine new music. 2) You complete your composition – which could take a long time or just a single day. 3) A publisher accepts your composition and puts time and money into getting it ready for the choral world. 3) A choir BUYS your music. 4) Singers put many hours into realizing your heart’s intent – trying to perfect your creation 5) A crowd of people BUYS tickets to the concert. 6) They sit quietly without distraction and absorb your music – something you first imagined in your head. Your music could touch people deeply and even change lives. What other profession on earth is like that? You have a profound responsibility. Be humble and grateful. Be encouraged to carry the torch. Work hard, hone your craft, and reach out with your special gift.
Read here for tips about the market and how a choral piece might gain traction in the choral world. Feel free to share your thoughts with Dr. Nickel. (firstname.lastname@example.org)