In 2016 Julie Smethurst lived her dream of creating a large-scale choral concert at the City Hall on 4 June, to celebrate her 60th birthday and the 80th anniversary of the Chorus. “I’d always dreamed of being able to sponsor a classical concert to the extent of being able to say what I wanted on the programme. Vaughan Williams became my favourite English composer in my teens, so the whole concert is made up of his music, including the mesmerising The Lark Ascending. The choices have been chewed over quite a bit but all the pieces I wanted have made it to the final line-up – with no compromises.”
But even armed with extensive personal experience and supportive colleagues who have been organizing and promoting concerts for over 15 years, the financial and practical implications make for a long to-do list. Concerts of this nature can take between 2 – 5 years to plan, to allow for venue and performer diary dates to align and partnerships to be devised. These are the real keys to success due to the team of professionals and volunteers needed; members of the Chorus, orchestra, bands, soloists, conductors, music directors, and all the ‘behind the scenes’ personnel who are needed to deal with booking the venue, ticketing, contracting, stage management and publicity.
Is it daunting? “I’d be telling fibs if I said no, but it’s also such a thrill and a privilege to celebrate my birthday so collaboratively, and with a splendid, experienced, and friendly team of people.” Classical concerts on this scale are just about impossible to make commercially viable, hence the importance of finding sponsors. Julie explained “I certainly couldn’t afford this on my own. A full orchestra costs around £20,000, then there’s venue hire and soloists’ fees to name just a few items. So we are all clubbing together to get the event off the ground. This is the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream. I can’t quite believe that the wonderful Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra, four soloists, and two large choirs will all be joining forces to create an unforgettable Birthday celebration. I can’t wait!”
Julie was prompted into making her dream a reality when fellow singer, Steve Terry, Bass with the Chorus, donned his ‘executive producer’ hat in December 2013. Read about his fantasy concert here.
So what would your concert be? Read why for Jo Briddock, 2nd Alto with the Chorus it would have to include Brahms’ Requiem.