INDIANAPOLIS — Despite a devastating 2020 for performing arts groups and an uncertain 2021, some organizations are finding reasons and ways to safely celebrate.
"We'd love to grow our Symphonic Choir family so all are welcome," Liam Bonner, executive director of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, said.
Bonner is looking on the bright side as the organization moves its signature fundraiser virtual.
While the annual gala will not have the in-person pomp and circumstance of the past, Bonner said this year's format is creating a different exciting opportunity — the ability for anyone with an internet connection to attend.
Tuesday's event is the choir's largest fundraiser for its education and community engagement programming.
It supports the organization's spotlight choir initiative, which gives local high school choirs a chance to join the Symphonic Choir on stage and be part of a professional production.
The gala also supports a conducting fellowship that Bonner calls a unique collaboration with Butler University. The choir provides a full tuition and stipend for a conducting fellow while they earn their master of music degree, while getting real world experience with the Symphonic Choir.
Raising money to help nurture the next generation of musicians is the goal, but the event is also about entertainment.
Even if you cannot or are not interested in donating, the community is encouraged to attend, enjoy two choir performances, and learn more about the organization.
"If you haven't come see us, please do, it'll be an experience that you won't forget," said longtime choir member Dana Goot.
No matter what, expect to see the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir in new places in the coming months.
The group is in talks with other chorale organizations for a potential summer event. Bonner describes the idea as "an outdoor choir festival type of experience, where participants in the choirs but also the community can come and sing along with the choirs leading the performance."
Bonner said the organization is also planning ways to improve accessibility and diversity. One way is by funding additional places to hold auditions.
"Going to various communities rather than expecting everyone to come to us in our rehearsal space," said Bonner. "Going to places that they may already be singing like at their churches where they're already comfortable and that makes a huge difference in an audition."
Goot acknowledges the audition process is rigorous.
"We have everyone from people who do have degrees in voice to those that have never taken a music lesson and have incredible ears and incredible voices," Goot said. "I mean everyone has incredible voices. But all people are welcome, and all people can produce music."
"We want to be able to reach everyone. It is not an elitist art form, we don't want it to feel that way," said Bonner. "We do really good work, the artistic quality is incredibly high, but that doesn't mean that it's not for everybody. It is for everyone and we want everybody to be a part of it if they are interested."
The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir virtual Gala Bel Canto: We'll Meet Again is Tuesday, February 23 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a pre-show starting at 6:30 p.m.
For more information go to indychoir.org.