What a tremendous weekend we had at the Cathedral. The stunning performances by the chorus were met with the most enthusiastic responses we’ve seen in my time with them. Great moments, both onstage and off, were being recounted by our board, staff, and membership. Tears, smiles, reunions, and new beginnings were all part of a spectacular weekend.
It made up for the weeks prior, which found the chorus a bit worried. With the economy’s effect on artistic and non-profit groups nationwide, we were concerned about a downward turn in ticket sales. But when the doors of the sanctuary were opened at 8 p.m. on Friday, we knew we’d been wrong. As we proceeded down the aisle, it became clear that the spirit of the holidays had not been the victim of a recession. The house was virtually full.
There had been quite a bit of advance buzz about our family matinee (complete with ice cream social), but we were still not sure what to expect in terms of an audience for the matinee on Saturday. At 2 p.m., just as the chorus left the choir room to make our way into the hall, our stage manager announced that we were holding for ten minutes because there was a line. It was the largest audience for a matinee that anyone can remember.
Stoked by two great houses and two inspiring performances, the chorus was ripe for a home run that night. For logistical reasons, several pews are blocked off down front, and the side areas are never sold. But at the last minute they had to be opened up to accommodate the high-dollar ticket purchases at the door. Once again, a full house.
Even with the wonderful payoff, the weekend was not about revenue for us. It was about making great music and reaching as many people as possible. At the holidays, married couples bring their children, their friends, people who aren’t sure what they’re getting into; chorus members invite co-workers, estranged family members and parents who may be seeing their son out for the first time. Because our audiences for this weekend are so diverse, we are able to have the greatest impact of our season in just two days.
As Donna Burchfield, our newest board member, said in her rousing address to the audience, the arts are important – especially in times like these, and the mission of organizations like ours remains essential. More than ever, we need organizations like the AGMC.
And you, our patrons, families, and friends, reminded us of that this weekend.
Happy Holidays to you and yours from the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus.