I had the privilege of working with the Kansas Choral Director's Association's (KCDA) Summer men's and women's honor concert in Topeka, KS last night. Having helped out at this event for several years I continue to be amazed at the level of talent exhibited by these young people. One young man, having auditioned and performed for the last three years, stated that the music gets more challenging each year. Based on their performance, the choir members were indeed up to the challenge.
Most of these young people continue on into college and participate in choral groups regardless of whether they major in music or not. One would think that most would then continue singing in community groups once they graduate, however, evidence suggests that they do not. This is unfortunate and does not bode well for the future of community chorus groups. Clearly the age of community chorus members is increasing and without younger people taking up with local choruses our communities will soon be devoid of these beneficial activities.
The question then becomes what can be done about it? I don't have the answer in this short essay, however, it seems that it is incumbent on all those interested in keeping community singing alive to do whatever it takes to encourage younger folds to continue singing into and through adulthood. Most of what I've mentioned here is anecdotal, simply my perception of the state of affairs regarding community choirs so perhaps I am wrong. I hope so. The bottom-line is that we need to stay tuned into the possibility that there may be a problem and we all need to be a part of the solution.
Personally I have benefited from participating in community chorus as well as being affiliated with high school and college choirs. There's something about quality choral music that stirs the soul. It goes beyond simple performance. Music and text expands my life experience, making me better person and citizen. I would like to think that it will benefit those that I interact with as well as my community. Multiply this by everyone that's exposed to the music of community chorus and the benefit to community is priceless.