Last year I had the immensely rewarding and transformative experience of helping bring a new ensemble to life, as part of the Cor Flammae administrative team. If you haven’t seen my previous posts, Cor Flammae is a classical music choral ensemble aiming to celebrate queer composers and vocalists – the only one of it’s kind in Canada – and I’m happy to report we completed it’s inaugural concert to a hungry and excited audience. We sold out 250 seats, and had to turn away another 100. There were even scalpers, which pretty much never happens in classical music.
I have been a life-long choral music audience member, with an ever growing interest in the world of arts admin, and a fascination with the puzzle of how to generate the positive feedback loop of audience engagement and participation that makes a stable arts venture. It was with great delight that I lent my abilities with a keyboard and a pencil to the Cor Flammae effort, jumping into the tasks of fundraising and print design. Audition posters, fundraising graphics, thank you cards and concert posters were all fun ways to engage and hopefully inspire folks to be singers, patrons and philanthropists for this brand spanking new choral group. Working on the branding vision with the choir’s Managing Director (my lovely and multi-talented wife) Missy Clarkson, we wanted something clean and modern, that would both reflect the seriousness of the talent and the music involved in the project, as well as create a fresh and contemporary appeal. Inviting people into this project, whether they were classical music people or totally new to the world of choir, is a core value for us – this project has purpose and something to say, new art to make, and we want to share an angle that hasn’t yet had much real-time application (though there is quite a bit of interesting scholarship on queer musicology – Queering the Pitch is a fascinating read) with anyone who would be interested. This also lead me to my favourite part of the project, the programme.
I’ve designed programmes before, but the great joy of the Cor Flammae programme was the copywriting I did in addition to layout. Researching the amazing composers, building off the bios Missy had compiled on the website, and trying to synthesize something we could share with the audience about their contexts, music and personal stories that would illuminate the concert experience was both an incredible deepening of my own knowledge, as well as a chance to geek-out as a writer and flex my academic training.
It was a wonderful experience, and now we’re looking forward to creating the same magic for the summer of 2015. Performances are on July 17th and 18th, when we’ll be performing an incendiary concert of sacred and profane works by queer composers. Come check us out!