Could I join a professional choir?

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’m having another one of those ‘gotta be more to life than being stuck in the office all day ’ moments.

So I’ve sung in amateur choirs for a long time, and my voice is okay and not wobbly, I blend in well and it’s quite strong, but could be stronger.

I did music A level (ie, an exam at school at 18) and grade 8 voice (which is probably just a UK thing, but I think it is the equivalent of an A level but practical) but haven’t done anything at degree level, or had many lessons recently.

So does anyone know if someone with my background could get a chance to audition with a processional or semiprofessional choir, and, if so, how could I arrange this? I’m completely clueless.

Only one way to find out :slight_smile:

The only thing I would ask is if you read music, because sometimes you have to sight-read for those things. Other than that, find a group that’s having auditions and find out the requirements. If you meet the requirements, then you should just go for it (with preparation, of course). If you fail, but you think with a little work you could do it, try, try again.

Good luck!

Sorry to post again, but I wanted to add a thought. Sometimes education requirements are out the window if you’re particularly talented, but it may be tougher to get in for the audition.

Heh. Suppose you’re right.

But how do I know about these auditions? Do choirs generally have a quick turnover? I can read music, and sightread pretty well, yes. It’s just the leap from amateur to professional which seems pretty wide at the moment.

I was in a couple of semi-professional choirs as a teenager. Most of the requirements consist of dedication and hard work. What I most remember was lots and lots of practice and lots of travelling. But you can also look forward ot meeting great people or even famaous ones (one of the choirs I was in performed backup for Patti LaBelle during a concert/TV appearance) It can be very rewarding so if it’s your thing go for it.

Stuffy> can I ask how much you got paid - was it pin money or what? And how many hours a week did you spend with the choir, rehearsing etc?

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Are you looking to get paid or are you just looking for a life-enhancing hobby?

Many symphony orchestras have choruses, usually unpaid. I sing in one, and it’s lots of fun, very fulfilling, a chance to meet interesting people, and the best seat in the house for a performance. If your city has an orchestra, call and ask. If they don’t have their own chorus, they might be able to point you to a volunteer chorus that they use when they need a choir.

Colleges and universities often sponsor a non-student volunteer choir. Call and ask.

Most major cities in the U.S. have some sort of semi-professional volunteer choir (i.e., you don’t get paid, but people pay to see you). In the choirs I’ve been in, there were varying levels of musical ability, but very few perfect sight-readers. You can learn the notes; demonstrating counting ability is more important at the audition than exceptional sight-reading. At some auditions I’ve been asked to sing back note sequences played on the piano, to test for interval awareness and memory.

Good luck!

Simple answer to the OP: no. Without wanting to be harsh, there’s very few professional choirs, and they really are the absolute elite. Also, for financial and musical reasons, they tend to be small ensembles and work within specialised repertoire - groups such as The Sixteen and the BBC Singers. If you were able to make a living singing in choirs, you’d already know it :slight_smile:

As laina_f says, the big orchestra-affiliated choruses are amateur, entered by audition - this includes big names such as theHalle Choir and the London Symphony Chorus. By all means enter for auditions for these - there’s details on their websites. (If you want to email me via my profile, I could look into more options depending on where you live)

Sorry to be so late getting back to you, real life and all that. As a general rule we did not get paid, however expenses were paid for such as travel and meals when we were formally invited to perform somewhere. The exception was a few recordings for which we were paid a nominal fee.

As for time spent with the choir (I was in two, same director) and we had 1-2 practices a week for each both lasting roughly 2-3 hours depending on the mood of the director or whether or whether not we were performing. I can even remember longer proactices when learning new material.

Unlike laina_f’s experience, I was not with a city or university sponsored choir, but an unaffiliated gospel choir. Typically we performed at Revivals, gospel music shows and contests and conventions. Normally for contests we raised the money ourselves to travel for it. But as I mentioned before, it was a lot of fun most of the time, and I met lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I second **GorillaMan’s ** thoughts. There are few professional choirs that would actually provide a decent income. There’s only one in Sydney and its members (many of whom I know well) all have other jobs to supplement their singing-related earnings.

As to joining them - I doubt that the really top-notch professional groups (like the Tallis Scholars) place advertisments in the papers when they’re looking for a replacement member. It would all be “word of mouth”. However, I have heard that some London churches pay their choir members to sing at Sunday services. If that’s true, perhaps you could try auditioning for one of those choirs (assuming you’re in London). I’d expect the competition would be pretty intense.

Otherwise you’re left with the semi-professional choirs - those that take a very professional approach to their performances and maintain high standards via initial/ongoing auditions, but still don’t actually pay their members anything. As I know from my own choral experiences, you do it purely for the love of singing.

Sorry for the delay in replying to say thanks to all for your replies! It’s nice, at least, to cross something off my big list o’ yearnings. At the moment I sing in a choir which is v. professional but does have a small subscription – so perhaps singing in a choir where I don’t have to pay should be my aim. :slight_smile:

[So I’ve sung in amateur choirs for a long time, and my voice is okay and not wobbly, I blend in well and it’s quite strong, but could be stronger. ]
I think you might find the “classified” link on (the website for the American Choral Directors Association) helpful. Most major groups post job vacancies on this board. As a word of advice, keep in mind these choirs are in the business of producing highly technical work on an extremely ambitious production schedule. Most require you to prepare an art song (often in a foreign language) which will show your solo capabilities, followed by a sight-reading test designed to eliminate almost every casual singer.

I have a good friend with zero musical education but a great singing voice. She started out singing with her church choir (and still does) and about eight years ago learned of an audition for ourlocal symphony. She’s been doing gigs with them ever since and she does get paid, although I don’t think it’s very much.

I say go for it.

Since the last time Fortean stopped by was 2006, either she’s a professional by now or mightily discouraged.

I missed that! Oh well, hopefully the former.