Growing Through Collaboration


This morning, Sam returned - exhausted - to his middle school choral classroom after an exciting, high-powered professional choral collaboration. Talk about having your feet in two related, but drastically different worlds. Once we get photos from our camera-magicians, I’ll take you on a full photo tour of the music-making of the past two weeks. Here are our reflections on how these collaborations were pivotal to our growth as an organization.

Last night, our Lenny, Lenny, Lenny concert in collaboration with Temple Emanu-El exceeded even our loftiest expectations. We knew we were breaking into new territory with this collaboration, but we did not expect the magnitude of response we received. When we had to call the printer midweek requesting that he print more programs than our original generous estimate, we knew something excited and record-breaking was brewing. Our online ticket sales along with the subscribing donors and patrons of both organizations filled Stern Chapel to capacity.

Here are some thoughts from Sam about how this collaboration helped him and Verdigris grow.

On the challenge of working through logistics with other organizations:

This collaboration was an enormous learning experience for me as a musician but also as a collaborator. Whenever there are many logistics within a collaboration, you're always racking your brain about the small details you've missed. It all came together beautifully and I now have a checklist for future similar collaborations.

Whether it was microphones, formation questions, program booklet details, projections, or box office, as a small organization with superstar volunteers but no paid staff, we have to work extra hard to think of all the details. Every concert and collaboration we enter is a chance to get more right and learn what to anticipate for future events. Especially when other organizations are involved, there are much more detailed conversations about logistics that need to happen in order for each group to feel like a valued part of the artistic product.

On the affirmations received about programming choices:

Many audiences really enjoyed the seamlessness of the entire performance. Many people came up to me afterwards saying "It was great that there was no applause until the end of the performance. I could really tell that there was a story."

So many people commented on the flow of the program. Sam hit it out of the park with this concert. Even as we sang, we could see people listening deeply as we moved through the seamless program. The projections of excerpts from Bernstein’s letters hung above us as we sang his music, and the dialogue between music and personal letter was profound. Every concert is an opportunity to further refine the ways we enact our creative vision. Having each of our collaborating choirs involved offered a beautiful contrast to our smaller, chamber choir presence and added greater depth to our ability to tell the story of this concert.

On sharing our creative process with the collaborating choirs:

Collaborating with Temple Emanu-El, Irving Chorale, and Mid-Cities Chamber Singers was wonderful. We had the honor of making music with people from all walks of life and collaborating with them in a process that they were not used to. To see their eyes light up when they experienced being part of the performance was inspiring.

We are so grateful that we found organizations who believed in the vision of this concert. Sharing this music with them was an honor and allows us to help spread the choral creativity bug by getting other organizations involved in our process.

On collaborating in new environments in front of new audiences:

We've made new friends. We cannot wait to keep in touch, especially with all of the exciting events coming up.

Through these collaborations, we’ve opened doors into relationships with fans, patrons, and donors we could not have found on our own.

Look out for the visual artistry of Dickie Hill and Brandon Tijerina in our next post as we relive the magic of these two powerful collaborative efforts through their lenses.

Erinn Sensenig