Have you ever sung on the stage of Dayton’s Victoria Theatre? That’s the question Culture Works asked of the Dayton community when the nonprofit that supports and sustains the arts in Dayton hatched an idea for a community choir.
The choir spawned out of a collective desire to re-engage with the community after the pandemic, said Lisa Hanson, Culture Works president and CEO. She heard murmurs of people reminiscing on coming together again for a community choir. The team at Culture Works said, “Well, why can’t we have one? Let’s figure out a way.”
Bill Perry, director of development and marketing for Culture Works, noted the team wanted to step up their kickoff programming for their annual Campaign for the Arts from years past and tap into the community. So, the Culture Works team put out a call for anyone with any level of skill and experience to build the choir.
The team thought maybe only a few people would respond to their pitch. When over 100 people signed up, the team was stunned.
The 100 voices that make up the Sing Out Loud choir is a combination of teachers, doctors, high school students, business professionals, professional opera singers and dozens of people from all walks of life. The diversity of voices excited the Culture Works team because of its desire to re-engage with and hear from the Dayton community.
“It’s exactly what I wanted to see,” Perry said. “They look like our community. They sound like our community.”
Mark Hanson, choir conductor, put together the three-song arrangement for the campaign kickoff performance on Tuesday, March 7. He drew on where Dayton is right now and who Dayton is as a community. He set out on the challenge of pulling together the large choir in three rehearsals.
“When I saw the number of voices and I saw the number of people and just the diversity in them all, I went, ‘You know, they can do this and they can do this in three rehearsals,’” said Hanson. “So my challenge then became, how am I going to get these people to believe that they can?”
He said he shared his heart and the vision of Culture Works with the choir, and the room immediately understood and related to what they were trying to tap into. He chose “One More Time” by Sarafina, “This is Me” by Keala Settle and “The Greatest Showman” ensemble and Frank Sinatra’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
“I think everyone in that choir, everyone in that orchestra that we’ve picked, everyone in that audience is going to feel the relevancy, and they can relate to those three songs,” said Hanson. “And the beauty of this whole project has been that no one person had to stand alone.”
He also noted the choir has been very open to his teaching and he’s noticed how the group has already formed such strong bonds of friendship despite only having a few rehearsals together. A big part of that was shifting mindsets from what the community has lost because of COVID-19 to what the community can come together to do now.
With 100 singers and a backing orchestra, the Culture Works team said everyone is just so excited to see the performance and the impact it will have on the performers, the arts and the Dayton community.
“We see just how hard it is and what it takes and what kind of deep passion and commitment it takes to bring these life-changing experiences to the community,” Lisa Hanson said. “We would love to just see a full house and a kickoff to this campaign that shows how important (the arts) are to the community.”
Tickets for the performance can be purchased online at https://www.daytonlive.org/events/sing-out-loud/#ticket-information. Tickets can also be purchased through the Dayton Live ticket office in advance and the day of the performance.
HOW TO GO
What: Culture Works’ Sing Out Loud choir performance
When: Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N Main St., Dayton
Cost: Tickets are $28 per person and are eligible for Culture Works’ Passport to the Arts discount
More information and tickets: Visit https://cultureworks.org/singoutloud/ for more details
About the Author