As some of you closest to us know, come springtime we choristers see a lot of each other. Our annual Jazz & Pop season closer takes a lot of our time outside of our weekly rehearsal. We are meeting after work at each other’s homes, listening to iDevice recordings of rehearsals in the car, memorizing on our lunch breaks. Then, the summer of silence.
Summer is a great time to reflect on what we have accomplished during the past season, both individually and collectively. Some new arrangers have surfaced from within the group, workshopping and tweaking their ideas and getting them to the stage. Compositions were premiered, body percussion practiced in grocery story lines. Looking back at early spring: our updated Annual Fundraiser Gala sold out this year! We introduced Spiritual Sing-along Workshops, and collaborated in a joint concert with a local high school. Thinking back further to the 2014 winter concert: psalms with double chorus, the celebration of local composers and exploring new venues. Then…thinking back to the crux of it all: the change of our name.
Changing from Pacific Mozart Ensemble to Pacific Edge Voices could have been a symbolic gesture, no more. It could have just been an arbitrary reason to update our legal files and make it harder to sell our old CDs, having burdened ourselves with larger signage at the merch table – “yes…this is us. The old us’s.” It could have been that annoying thing that trips up our tongue when we invite our friends to our concerts – “I love this concert set PME – I mean PVE, I mean PEV, ugh. Pacific Edge. The concert Pacific Edge Voices is doing. Please come!”
Instead, the most beautiful thing happened. We adopted the name as a credo for the next generation of our thinking, singing, creating, and community. What does it mean to be on the EDGE? Sure, we are on the Pacific Edge of the continental US, but what does it mean to be edgy in our voice, our musical selections? In our ambitious projects, and new workshops, commissions and youth collaborations?
It was universally agreed that our ideology needed to change or we would expire. As we in the Bay Area well know, the cost of living has been exploding in recent years. This has applied to our costs as well. Venues we used to enjoy for the cost of ticket admission have nearly doubled in price. Relative to other comparable arts organizations, we have kept our admission costs low. We have added outreach opportunities to create better grant visibility for increased funding opportunities, but those are long-term investments and are unreliable.
Ultimately, these funding opportunities do not come close to covering our season costs. Our non-profit organization ultimately depends on the love of our family, friends, and audiences. We want to bring you concerts in more beautiful venues, and more concerts in a season. We want the opportunity to perform outdoors, meaning an amplification system. We want to participate in festivals and other no-cost public events that foster cultural awareness. We want to improve our skills so we can continue pushing the boundaries of what a chorus can accomplish. Ultimately, we want to be the exciting group that gets one of those coveted reservations on your family calendar.
As the administrator for the past few seasons, I have had the distinct joy of getting to know some of our patrons. I spoke on the phone with people who’ve never missed a Jazz & Pop set. Several loyal fans brought their entire birthday celebrations to our concert. Email and phone calls came through from new audience members citing this-or-that-song that was moving or charming. If you have stories after a concert set, please let us know! Send us an email, tweet us @PacEdgeVoices, and write on our Facebook wall. And please, if you have the financial means to support us, please do. Our organization would be nothing without you.
Lindy Miller-Castro, Alto