Right, then, let’s talk about money. It’s a subject that’s bound to come up sooner or later when someone says “Let’s do the Verdi Requiem”. Because, let’s face it – whatever happens, it’s not going to be a cheap concert.
First of all, the work requires a large, romantic, orchestra. That means you need a pretty decent sized choir (so they can be heard) not to mention four generously-lunged (read “expensive”) soloists. And that means you’re looking for a large venue. And that’s before you think about the music hire costs.
I think it’s fair to say that the initial reactions of the Leatherhead Choral Society committee to my suggestion of the Verdi spanned a wide range, but, bless their cotton socks, they didn’t shoot it out of the water and the more they thought about it the more it seemed like we might, just be able to pull it off provided we could find the right collaborators who were prepared to shoulder some of the financial responsibility, and provided we all had enough support from our choirs.
I’ve recorded elsewhere in my bloggerings how lucky we were to forge a great relationship with the other choirs, who quickly became completed equal partners in the venture, and also the wonderful lady who conducts two of them and who immediately got excited about the project when she was first approached, gosh, almost exactly a year ago now.
The biggest expenses are of course the venue and the orchestra, but by using a reduced orchestration (about which more in my next bit of bloggery) we’ve managed to tame the second item somewhat. However the work still demands a top-notch band, perhaps even more so since each player is relatively more exposed than in the original version, and we are very lucky to have obtained the services of a very fine orchestra, the English Festival Orchestra (founded by Trevor Ford), which knows a thing or two about playing for choral concerts being effectively the house bands for, among other things, the Leith Hill Musical Festival and The Really Big Chorus concerts in the Albert Hall.
The treasurers of all four choirs have spent ages poring over spreadsheets to come up with a really tight budget, so that we could answer some basic questions like: “what should the ticket price be?” and “how many tickets do we have to sell to avoid complete financial ruin for our choirs”. It seems like we’re going to need to sell between 2 and 3 tickets for every person in the combined choirs, which seems like a reasonably ambitious, but not totally ridiculous target, being the sort of proportion we would hope to achieve on a normal concert. Looking at it that way seems to make it seem a lot less scary than just stating the total number of tickets.
By the way – for another overview of the project, do check out my blog on the wonderful ChoirPlace website.