BCCF Chorfest 2017 Young Adult Chorus Wrap Up

Young Adult Choir Report

also see appendices:

Program for weekend is attached (appendix 1)
Code of conduct for weekend is attached (appendix 2)
Survey Results are attached (appendix 3)

Registration numbers:

  • 65 total registrations (3 no shows, 1 ill not attending)
  • S = 26, A= 15, T = 14, B/B = 13 (some singers selected multiple voice parts)
  • 24 BC Choirs were represented
  • 36 registered self-identified in the 16-18 year old range

Comment: Five choirs (and/or their directors) championed this choir. Local high school choirs did not participate. The reason is unclear to us, but we suspect that the local music teachers are too engaged in “doing their own thing” – very busy and difficult to reach. When our story resonated with a choir director, they wanted to send multiple participants.   


  • Early (one year) mass email to local high school teachers (awareness), as well as youth/young adult choirs provincially
  • One-page information sheet provided at BCMEA in BCCF booth.
  • Local choirs participating in Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival received notice from organizers
  • Local host choirs (Linden & SingYourJoy) shared information with their respective people and publics
  • **Choir director was a key influencer in the decision to attend
  • Direct email and conversations with key choir leaders who expressed interest: Paul Cummings (Powell River) & Andrea Lee (Windermere School/Vancouver), Adam Con (UVic), Sally Murphy (Oak Bay High School) Gordon Miller and Christine Chepyha (SingYourJoy Young Adult Chorus) Brian Wismath (Linden Singers).
  • BCCF website had specific pages dedicated to each choir
  • BCCF e-news highlighted new non-auditioned choir
  • Facebook/Twitter used extensively to encourage interest and registration
  • Special and separate Facebook page created for BCCF Chorfest 2017 (this page will now continue on to be a BCCF Chorfest 2018 page when more details are available)

Comment: Early, ongoing and consistent word of mouth, direct and influencer marketing  is always best and key to the success of any registration program. Social media adds a layer of excitement and ongoing engagement that is a secondary support of the program or event. We do not recommend that you rely on one without the other.


Post Event Survey

  • request for responses sent twice over 2 weeks immediately after event
  • 37 responses received ( 57% response rate)
  • attached as appendix 3

Comment: It is important to capture responses as soon as possible after the event. We believe that two asks is typically required, while a third ask might have been badgering. We believe that a 57% response rate is excellent. Paper based surveys given out before participants went home might yield higher participation, but the question quantity, style and type becomes limited.

Choir Sponsorship:

  • major donor in Lois Johnson ($1500) plus $520 in smaller donations (total tax receiptable = $1945)

Comment: Donations from local personal connections helped keep the participation costs of the inaugural year lower. NOTE: See survey results for “prohibitive pricing” data.

Onsite Management:

  • Christine Chepyha provided general oversight for in-person registration, group ‘management’ (i.e., time for break, time for selfies, time for meals) as well as choir accompanist for weekend.
  • Sally Murphy (Oak Bay High School Choral Director) assisted with onsite registration Friday evening.
  • Gordon Miller coordinated all aspects of food service – from menu creation to food preparation, food service and cleanup – some volunteer help from SingYourJoy choir members not participating in Chorfest.
  • Both Christine and Gordon shepherded the Saturday early evening bus tour.
  • Gordon and Christine also billeted Tauya and Nelson (Scott’s two assistants).

Comment: Recruiting and coordinating volunteers can be time consuming and unruly. More volunteers make lighter work but also require more planning and coordination and management. Higher registration numbers would necessitate more volunteers.

Venue: Oak Bay United Church was ideal with good acoustic rehearsal space, food preparation and service, as well as a place for eating and mingling. Onsite parking (not really necessary for this group) as well as access via public transport system was also a benefit of this location.

Registrations Online Only – two payment options (pay NOW, and pay later)

  • Equal numbers on each system – all paid (with one exception) by Chorfest Friday evening session

Comment: Ease of registration is vital for this cohort. The system in place for Chorfest 2017 worked well (with few glitches, likely due to user error). Paper-based registration is not necessary nor recommended for this age group.


Repertoire Comment: chosen by Scott Leithead in consultation with the Young Adult Choir Organizers. Music was fun and flexible to the degree that songs could be added to removed or adapted based on the ability of the registered singer and how well and quickly they gelled.


  • Scott Leithead was an excellent choice for this cohort – for many attendees he was the reason to be involved. His teaching style and personal style worked well with this age group.
  • Because of his incredibly busy schedule, it was challenging to connect with him to finalize details. (according to the ‘redbook’ Chorfest planning schedule)
  • Scott’s style also added some interesting challenges to onsite activities.
    • Friday evening’s rehearsal started earlier than scheduled cutting into the programmed ‘ice-breaking’ time, in part because Scott was anxious to get started to see what he was working with voice-wise.
    • The Big Beautiful Bus Tour was only scheduled to be at Christ Church Cathedral for possibly 10 – 20 minutes (long enough to sing one song in the space, see the space, take a photo and then leave).  Scott saw an opportunity to rehearse almost all the repertoire (in other words, create an additional rehearsal time) that ate into the balance of the tour, causing us to cancel the majority of the stops, and ending it abruptly at the Legislature.
    • Similarly, the decision to start the performance of the choir at the Farquhar Auditorium from the audience was something that was not decided until that morning in rehearsal.

Comment: Communication between BCCF and local organizers was not clear around clinician hotel bookings and local transportation. Who is organizing the needs of the clinician on-site? A question to clarify for future events.

Young Adult Choir Organizer’s Summary:

This was a very successful inaugural event, championed by local enthusiasts of this age group and style of choir. Registrations did not come early and it took consistent messaging to achieve these registration results. (note – this is typical of this age-cohort) Our communication with the clinician was spotty and often delayed by his ill health over the summer and very full work schedule.

While Scott may have understood that the intent of the bus tour was to have several points of interest for the singers to disembark, see a local site of interest and sing a song in a very public location (pop up spontaneous performances), he chose to use the time to continue rehearsing with the choir.  This made the rest of the tour impossible to achieve. We believe that the survey comments about the bus tour reflect the disconnect between organizers and the clinician around the purpose of this activity.


We do believe that extra effort could have been put into the “ice breaking” activities, especially since the majority of our singers arrived well ahead of schedule. This is a sophisticated age group that has high expectations and experience with similar programming.

The overall participant feedback was very positive. The comments and suggestions were well thought out and given as constructive feedback for future organizers.

There was a small concern about the maturity level of some of the younger participants. This is a challenging age range (16 to 29) to place together in a group, but most of the younger singers rose to the occasion and performed emotionally above their age.

Additional affirming responses from choir and audience members were received post event via email and in person, offering accolades for an amazing concert experience, an amazement at the energy levels and the obvious joy of the participating singers.

We recommend a team approach to coordinating this choir. We found it very helpful to have supportive input from a colleague. Plan on 4 to 8 hours per month for the first 6 months of the year leading up to Chorfest and 4 + hours per week in the final 6 months leading up to Chorfest. Communicating with potential singers, with influencers and with fellow committee members is key and will take up the majority of the time.

A clinician with a passion for embracing seasoned choral singers and newcomers to the craft in the same choir is important so that all participants receive an overwhelmingly positive experience. This is not a choir for a choral curmudgeon at the helm.

We are grateful for the trust BCCF Chorfest 2017 planning committee placed in us to launch the first non-auditioned Young Adult Choir and hope that future organizers are able to incorporate some of our learnings into their events.

Chorally yours,

Christine Chepyha and Gordon Miller