When the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra Chorus first emerged in the 1970s, it carried the name Baton Rouge Choral Society, a gathering of likeminded songbirds bringing the artistry of orchestral choral music to the masses. Today, chorus director David Shaler works to carry on that tradition in his 11th year on the job, presiding over this season’s auditions and looking forward to performances yet to come.
“The audition process is about 10 to 15 minutes, and I aim to make it as friendly and encouraging as possible,” says Shaler.
With the holiday season approaching in just a few months, the efforts to retain the chorus’ presence in Baton Rouge are as vital as ever.
“As of now, our fall/winter season includes being part of the Symphony’s 75th anniversary concert on Nov. 5. This will hopefully be in the newly renovated River Center Performing Arts Theatre,” Shaler says. “For that concert, the plan is for the chorus to sing two early American rounds by the composer William Billings. These will be sung as the chorus encircles the main floor of audience members—of course, this plan is only if the COVID danger is not a concern at that time. The next concert is the annual Home for the Holidays program in December.”
The Christmas concert remains one of the chorus’ biggest hits, this year featuring not only the chorus with the orchestra, but also a children’s chorus and a guest soloist.
“There is something for everyone,” Shaler says. “You’ll hear classical pieces such as Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ pops pieces such as ‘Let It Snow,’ traditional Christmas hymns such as ‘O Holy Night,’ and even a sing-along medley of carols for the audience with our chorus and the orchestra.”
One of best ways to support BRSO and the chorus, of course, is to attend their concerts, with each ticket sale sustaining the groups themselves, as well as ensuring future generations of musicians. Singing or playing in a musical ensemble, after all, unites communities in a common purpose and helps create harmony—both on a literal and figurative level.
“I believe that when our audiences see and hear musicians working together toward the goal of creating something beautiful, they too will be inspired to seek and create beauty in their lives,” Shaler adds. “More than ever today, we need musical groups like this that unite us in our common humanity—our common emotions and expressions.”
For more information on chorus rehearsals and performances, visit brso.org/chorus.
This story originally appeared in inRegister. Read it here.