The joy of singing in a chorus is something that has blessed me all my life, especially the past 30 years that I’ve lived in the Sacramento area. And I think it’s natural to believe that one’s own chorus is — maybe with a couple of exceptions — just about the only worthwhile game in town. But in the fall of 2011, I began to wonder about the extent of choral activity in our area. I did a little research and began to discover groups I had never heard of. It occurred to me that I could share the fruits of my research with the public, so I started the Sacramento Choral Calendar (www.sacchoralcalendar.com) to list all the performances that were coming up. Soon I had identified dozens of choral organizations and was publicizing their concerts.
Then my curiosity really began to rise. I started attending as many concerts as I could — and I was stunned. Time and again, I heard performances that were brilliantly executed: creative, artistic, surpassingly beautiful (or profoundly exhilarating) — and, more often than not, highly entertaining. There were many different styles of music: classical, Broadway/Hollywood, folk, jazz, pop, barbershop, etc. I listened with an open mind, and my life was enriched.
But so often these excellent choral concerts were performed for disappointingly small audiences. I felt that something had to be done. People had to be encouraged to discover what they had been missing. How could these fine choruses be brought to the wider public’s attention?
The answer was SacSings! — The Sacramento Choral Festival.
In July 2013 a large group of people, representing many choruses, met and collectively decided to collaborate in putting on a choral festival. A steering committee was formed, which eventually incorporated as the Sacramento Valley Choral Coalition. In June 2014, the first SacSings! was held at Harris Center at Folsom Lake College. It showcased 20 choruses over 3 days in 8 concerts. Then in June 2015, the second SacSings! was held at Harris Center, featuring 15 choruses.
SacSings! has been a collaborative effort from the start, so last fall, we held a series of focus groups of past participants to find how the festival could be fine-tuned. The consensus was that SacSings! needed to be moved to the beginning of the spring choral season, instead of after it. And the venue needed to be made more central for the convenience of choruses and audiences.
So the decision was made to hold this year’s SacSings! at the Performing Arts Center at Sacramento City College over the weekend of April 23 & 24, 2016. Nearly 1000 singers from 20 choruses will be performing in 4 concerts, 5 choruses per concert. As you read this, those choruses are working on their 20-minute performance set, determined to dazzle new audiences with their best work. In one afternoon or evening, the concert-goer can hear a choral buffet, and hopefully get the same thrill of discovery that I had over the past several years.
SacSings! is now an annual event, but each festival is new: 6 of this year’s choruses have not participated before. And the music, of course, is always fresh. On April 23 & 24, Sac City College’s Performing Arts Center will sizzle with positive, creative, artistic energy. There is nothing remotely like SacSings! in our area — or in all of northern California, for that matter. I hope tickets will still be available when you decide to join us for SacSings! 2016. It would be too bad to have to wait another year for this showcase of choral excellence.