Low budget, high marks for choirs


Southwestern College’s vocal music department refuses to sing the blues despite small audiences this semester and an even smaller budget. Big talent and big plans still set the tempo.

Director Dr. Teresa Russell said there were several factors that led to a poor turnout at a recent performance, including the power outage, a Chargers game and the anniversary of 9/11.

“The Chargers being tied at the end of the fourth quarter when the concert started didn’t help us,” she said. “So I mean I understand, but we get the date that we get and on September 11 a lot of people had events to go to, so that didn’t help us either.”

Ticket sales are important to the budgets of the Concert Choir, Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Chamber Singers, but they have plenty more chances with upcoming shows on November 10 for Veteran’s Day and a holiday performance December 11.

Balboa Park’s annual “December Nights” on December 2, is the singers’ biggest event and draws several thousand people. Ensemble coordinator Maricela Paniagua said December Nights will end the semester with a bang.

“All of our shows are really fun, but this is our main event,” she said.

Costume, stage setup and preparation can be expensive, so the choirs rely on fund raising to augment ticket sales. Trader Joe’s has agreed to sponsor the choir this year, relieving some of the pressure of costs.

Russell said the choir collects old cell phones, plastic bottles and aluminum cans to recycle for extra cash.

“It seems ridiculous, but it is about $1,000 a year,” she said. “(We do) whatever pays for the music and the travel.”

SWC choirs have had performances in Australia, Paris, Greece and Carnegie Hall in recent years. The Concert Choir was invited to Rome for the American Festival of Music and a performance at The Vatican.

Preparation requires much time and effort, according to rehearsal assistant BJ Robinson. “There is a lot of responsibility on the individual,” he said. “It is really about coming together, making sure they’re making time allowances, practicing their music and choreography, getting the right clothes.”


Upcoming performances:

November 10, SWC’s Veteran’s Day Observance, Mayan Hall

December 2, December Nights, Balboa Park

December 11, Holiday Concert, Mayan Hall

December 21, luncheon performance, Ronald McDonald House of San Diego


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