Organ in loft, choir up front (cantata/lessons and carols)?
  • Hello! I am the Director of Music at my church and last year, our choir sang a cantata with a small instrumental ensemble and piano. This year, I would like to do a service of Advent lessons and carols with organ and brass, but our organ is in the back of the sanctuary, in the loft. I would like the choir to be up front.

    Is this possible? How do I work around the sound delay? Where should I place the brass? Is it acceptable to just have the choir remain in the loft (where they normally sing)?

    Thank you!

  • Caleferink
    Posts: 397
    If it's Advent Lessons and Carols and not just a straight-up concert, I think it's perfectly acceptable to leave the choir in the loft.
  • pfreese
    Posts: 147
    One creative idea would be to keep everything up in the loft and work with a priest to have say a “Holy Hour w/ Lessons and Carols.” That way the service has a clear liturgical character (not just a performance for performance sake) while also lessening the temptation to “look behind” to the loft, which the congregation would definitely do if there is a conspicuously empty sanctuary. My parish does something similar every advent and it’s a been a roaring success.
  • Jordan,

    Without knowing the architectural design of the church, let me make the following observation: it is possible to have a choir in one location and the organ accompanying said choir in a different location within the same building but it takes coordination and practice. I note this because you say that you want the choir "up front".

    Caleferink makes a good distinction: is this a concert or Lessons and Carols? The choir in which I sing "moves downstairs" only for things like the beginning of Holy Week processions.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    My choir is too badly behaved and too easily distracted to even consider putting them in front. However, unless you are doing a performance, do they really need to be seen?
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 760
    I think the choir members behave better when they know they can be seen. Upstairs they feel distanced from the altar and sometimes forget where they are.
  • Carol,

    Some choir members behave better when they know they can be seen.
    Thanked by 3JL CharlesW Carol
  • >> Some choir members behave better when they know they can be seen.

    not me man... besides I want to be out of range of the tomatoes :)
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    1. Yes it is acceptable to have the choir sing from the loft. I have participated in many L&C where the choir sang from the loft. No problem.

    2. You could have the choir sing a cappella pieces from the front and have the organ accompany hymns or play a solo; this way you overcome the delay.

    3. If you have the organ accompany the choir, I think it best to keep them in the same vicinity, or you could have the choir move from the front (a cappella pieces) to the back (accompanied) or vice versa, but I would only do this one time. In my opinion this kind of movement can get distracting if it happens too often.

    Good luck!
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress

  • It is possible, if this is what you wish, to have the choir up front with the organ in the choir gallery. Depending on the acoustics and size of your church, you will want to practice coordinating choir and organ to perform well with any delay. At Walsingham we do this when we have evensong and there is no delay problem of any significance. If there is a delay problem it is important that everyone, especially the organ, follows NOT what is heard, but the beat and physical movements of the choirmaster. Thus will those seated in the nave hear a blended sound while those at either end of it will be aware of the delay, if any.
  • Blaise
    Posts: 439
    At Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, TX):

    Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols - choirs and organ only, all in the loft, except when space did not permit. In 2014, one of the children's choirs was downstairs with portativo organ. All choirs, adults and children, combined for one piece at the end but singing at their own location. The format of our service is semi-liturgical (with readings spaced between carols, hymns and choral pieces) as opposed to concert proper. Conductor and assistant conductor for the combined piece.

    Solemn Choral Evensong in remembrance of the faithful departed (date close to November 2, if not All Souls Day proper) - combined parish, academy (parish school) honors choirs, organ, sometimes guest chamber orchestra from the San Antonio Symphony. All musicians, choral and instrumental, in the loft. One conductor.