Organization hosts season kickoff event Oct. 21 at BLU Jazz+
— Preserving the art of choral music requires a much different method than maintaining a piece of visual art. For example, you need rehearsals, performers and, most importantly, the audience. And as Summit Choral Society moves into its 26th year of preserving this classical form, the organization also must look toward the future and engage younger audiences.
One start is the new artistic director, who breaks a number of traditional molds.
“I’m not a stereotypical conductor and I’m a younger, non-white female,” says Marie Bucoy-Calavan, Summit Choral Society’s artistic director, who adds, “We have a lot of innovative ideas as to how to make choral music more accessible.” One method of engagement is the launch of a choral scholars program to help encourage younger participants.
Along with leading Summit Choral Society’s singers, Bucoy-Calavan, 29, serves as director of Choral Studies at the University of Akron, where she directs the Concert Choir, Women’s Chamber Choir and Men’s Chorus while teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting.
“Working at the university, I am encouraged by the number of young people who want to major in music or want to be choral musicians,” she says.
To celebrate the 2015-2016 season, Summit Choral Society will host a kickoff event Oct. 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at BLU Jazz. The new season begins Nov. 1, 3 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 50 N. Prospect St., in Akron, with the Masterworks Chorale performing Mozart’s Requiem and Brahms Schicksalslied. The event also includes a pre-concert reception at 2 p.m.
Summit Choral Society has been operating for 25 years and until recently was still under the supervision of its founding director. But part of managing the organization’s history and its future, according to Bucoy-Calavan, is in focusing on “roots and wings,” or trying to remain rooted in tradition while using its wings to go in new directions.
“We’re trying innovative ideas to get new audience members,” she says. “We see great potential in both.”
So what has motivated this young artistic director to make a career of choral music? It’s when the individuals blend into one, creating a single instrument with these myriad voices.
“The beauty of choral singing is when you blend perfectly into a choir and you don’t hear yourself,” she adds. “You’re an integral part of a puzzle. You’re part of something larger than yourself.”
Along with new leadership, Summit Choral Society also is restructuring its board, says Executive Director Karen Prasser. “We are rebuilding the board to create better tentacles into the community,” she says. “After an organization has been around 25 years, you want to look at how are you still relevant.”
One challenge is engaging singers of all ages consistently, but she admits there is a disconnect somewhere between the the children’s choir and the Masterworks Chorale, or that 20- to 35-year-old Millennial demographic.
“The word relevancy really stands forward in my mind,” she says. “How do we reach those children in the schools to serve as an extended resource?”
Prasser says that Bucoy-Calavan is the ideal leader to make these connections with other Millennials.
To find out more about the kickoff event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1024893314222627/.
To order tickets for the Nov. 1 performance, “Masterworks Chorale Presents Mozart Requiem and Brahms Schicksalslied,” click here.
For info about the upcoming season and the organization’s many programs, visit http://www.summitchoralsociety.org.