Some information about VOCO
Some people have asked why they are being required to pay $25 to sing in a concert, and we understand that this seems a little odd on the face of it, so we’d like to explain what VOCO is, and why you are being asked to do this. So here it is:
As many of you know, VOCO is an annual event to which we are lucky enough to be invited. We go along and sing 2 or 3 songs, and listen to other choirs who do the same, so that all the choirs make up a whole programme between us.
Brian Lee, the MD of the Stellar Singers, originally conceived the event as a big shared concert, where amateur choirs in the area (and beyond) could get together and have an opportunity to sing....for each other, and for a paying audience. The idea was for the choirs to encourage and support each other, and have a sense of sharing in the community of choral singing. And the plan was that people participating would invite their friends and families, and ticket sales would be generated mostly from that.
It was expected that ticket sales would cover the considerable expenses (venue hire, sound equipment etc) - all the labour, organisation, website etc was provided free of charge by Brian and the Stellars. And any profit left over at the end was to be divided between the participating choirs. So a really generous model from the organisers.
Unfortunately, in the first couple of years of trying this model, things didn’t go to plan. People didn’t seem to invite others and despite a good advertising effort from the organisers, the audiences were under capacity. In the second year, there was a considerable financial loss which Brian covered personally.
Before last year’s VOCO, Brian discussed this with Kate and other MDs, and Kate’s suggestion was that it would be a good idea to charge participants a small fee. This is in line with other music conventions, where people contribute a small part of the programme but get to enjoy listening to other performances for most of the evening. Barbershop conventions charge astronomical fees, for instance, and there are many examples of this kind of thing at a range of prices. Brian trialled this last year, with a requirement that every singer paid for one guest, or if they didn’t invite someone, for themselves. This seemed to us to be a very fair solution, erring on the side of generosity.
Brian and his team have refined it this year, with a $25 charge for each singer plus a guest, probably because this way of doing it makes the admin a little easier to manage. Ticketing for an event like this is a small nightmare, as we know from organising our own events.
But we feel that even if people are asked to pay $25 for their participation, and don’t bring a guest, that’s great value for money. We’ve never heard a negative comment from any of our members who have been part of VOCO, and in fact have had many enthusiastic and appreciative comments about the value of it. And given that we and other similar choirs charge a similar ticket price for our concerts, anyone coming along as a guest of a singer is getting full value as well - you could see either your participation or your guest’s attendance as “free”.
We realise that it’s not quite the same as inviting someone to hear a concert which is exclusively your own choir’s performance, but there are some great groups in the concert, and the variety will be really interesting and worthwhile.
So we encourage you to come along and participate and enjoy the experience. But if you don’t feel that this is for you, there is absolutely no obligation to register. This year should be a lot of fun, as we are able to include anyone from our 6 choirs who would like to join in. We’ll sing Africa and Ukuthula, both of which will be amazing in that venue, with what we hope will be a really large group of singers!