Vox Camerata in conjunction with MuzikSea presents The Choir Collective Residency, a 26 week long programme conceptualised for Choir conductors who are mostly Self Employed Persons (SEPs) in the choral music community. This programme is a platform for conductors to participate in a structured and collaborative professional development practice, where the goal is to help facilitate the growth of individual professional skill sets and knowledge through closed loop feedback from peers and invited faculty coming out of a practicum setting.
This initiative aims to (1) provide a safe and conducive environment for choral conductors to come together and develop their leadership and professional skills, (2) promote intergenerational and cross camp collaborations within the choral music scene, and (3) enact a timely intervention for choral music practitioners in a time where the choral music sector is in need of resuscitation due to COVID-19. During the pandemic, the choral music sector has witnessed an epochal disruption of its practices due to the implemented social distancing measures. This led to the loss of income from teaching and performance opportunities, and we now see a loss of talent as conductors exit the industry in search of more stable opportunities in a time of uncertainty.
The programme has a two-tier participation category, namely the (1) Residency Fellowship and (2) Professional Laboratory Singers/Singer-Mentors. The Residency Fellowship is open to conductors at all stages of their careers who are interested in refining their skill sets and developing themselves as all-rounded leaders. This programme looks to specifically support mid-career choir conductors aged 36-55 who might have lacked prior opportunities to build greater expertise that benefits their musical careers. The Professional Laboratory Singers position is open to any individual who is able to sing in a choir at a professional level. While the positions are open to anyone to apply, for the purposes of the SEP grant, we will give priority to SEPs for recruitment irrespective of the sector, subject to them passing singing auditions.
Programme Rationale and Outcomes
Sector Scan Analysis:
Prior to the writing of this proposal, we conducted a survey as well as multiple focused group discussions with the SEPs from the choral music sector. We discovered that:
- They currently lack the competence to perform repertoire to the standards demanded by such programmes.
- Clinicians’ expertise is currently restricted to sets of fundamental “universal techniques” that have seen limited and/or varied success in local choirs.
- Even if advanced techniques are taught in such workshops, conductors who lead amateur or school choirs tend to lack opportunities to work with more experienced/capable singers that would be able to utilise such techniques to their fullest potential.
As a call to action arising from the sector scan, we decided that the residency programme would address this gap by allowing conductors to work with practised singers who would be able to give targeted feedback that helps them better address their current lacks.
The residency programme is a platform for choral music practitioners to develop the musical mastery of choral conductors and the professional competency to lead choral organizations. There are three phases in the programme: (1) Planning and Development Stage, (2) Training Stage (4x 4 week cycles), and (3) Performance and AAR stage.
The Planning and Development Stage is 6 weeks long. The faculty members of the programme will convene at this period and deliberate on the curriculum content and delivery, formative and summative assessment criterias, as well as the selection of the residency fellows. After the fellows selection, the faculty will also conduct short pre-training stage sessions (e.g score reading, vocal pedagogy, lesson planning etc) with the fellows and other individuals who have indicated interest in auditing these sessions. Considerations will be made for the four fellows to be recruited across SATB voices.
The Training Stage is 16 weeks long. This is broken down to 4 cycles of 4 weeks each. In each cycle, each fellow will get:
- 1x 3-hour rehearsal each with the laboratory. In the weeks that the fellows are not conducting, they are expected to participate as singers and to provide feedback to other fellow residents in the interest of building a collaborative environment.
- 3x 2-hour Professional development sessions where the fellows will co-create content for a workshop that they will jointly conduct at the end of the programme. This seminar adapts a Lesson Study framework and will be facilitated by Dr. Shahril Salleh.
- 4x seminar with invited guest speakers who will support residents in the non-conducting aspect of music-making; the objective is to help them grow not merely as technically capable conductors but also as effective communicators. educators and sector leaders.
The Performance and AAR stage is 4 weeks long. There will be 3 concert rehearsals where all the fellows will share the podium time at each rehearsal. The fellows will also trial run their workshop with the singers prior to the actual public workshop. These dates are subject to the availability of the concert hall and workshop spaces.