What is Voices of Concinnity? It is Connecticut's versatile vocal chamber ensemble illuminating the breadth and variety of choral music through innovate and artfully sung programming. It was envisioned in 2018 by founding artistic director, Sarah Kaufold, as a professional choral ensemble that could promote an inclusive atmosphere for all singers, while also cultivating a unique ensemble sound identity and offering affordable choral performances for all in the community. I feel an origin story coming on...
There are a couple different ways to structure a choir. The model currently popular with a number of professional chamber choirs is to have a large roster of 40+ singers from which the choir director draws for specific concerts to create a chamber choir (usually 20 or so singers). Although this model ensures that any concert will be "staffed," it means that some singers will not get the opportunity to perform. It also suggests that the overall sound of the ensemble has to be dictated by the director, regardless of the vocal colors/timbres of the individual singers present because the ensemble rarely has the exact same singers. This model also means that singers sit on the rosters of many professional choirs in their area. Alternatively, there are choir structure models with a set roster of singers that rehearse weekly. While this model maintains an ensemble sound identity with a consistent group of singers, it excludes some singers from participating, especially for those who regular weekly commitments are difficult (such as parents and other caretakers.)
Therefore, to maximize the inclusivity of each choir structure model, Concinnity was conceptualized as a set-roster chamber ensemble that could be accessible to all professional singers by requiring only a few rehearsals prior to each performance, which is accomplished by having the singers study the music on their own time prior to attending rehearsals scheduled around the availability of each singer. As a result, inclusion rests in the accessibility for the singers to participate and belonging flourishes by cultivating an ensemble sound created by the organic integration of individual vocal colors. In fact, this concept is where the ensemble's name is derived. The word “concinnity” is defined as the skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something. Each individual singer is a part that fits together in a skillful and harmonious manner when Voices of Concinnity connects through sound.
Concinnity began performing with a chamber music performance practice. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Concinnity often performed without the artistic director conducting the ensemble. The singers relied on eye contact, facial cues, and breath to communicate with each other while singing. But, the wearing of protective face masks in performance the last couple years has inhibited that chamber ensemble communication practice. Despite the mask-wearing, an audience member from an in-person performance in December 2021 shared: "It was obvious, to me, that each choir member was in tune with one another." The positive comments we receive on the overall sound of the ensemble indicate this experiment in "concinnity" is thriving.
The inclusive environment originated from within the ranks of Voices of Concinnity created the foundation for the exploration of music by living composers and composers historically excluded from the choral canon. As a result, Concinnity's mission transformed to connect with the community through exquisitely crafted and innovative choral programming that fosters inclusion, promotes collaboration, illuminates variety, and ensures affordable access. But, it all began with creating an equitable space for professional singers: an origin that is continuing on an incredible journey destined to be remarkable.
Voices of Concinnity is a 12-voice professional ensemble of dedicated, seasoned choral artists from diverse backgrounds who strive to cultivate the art of chamber ensemble singing in Connecticut sponsored by Consonare Choral Community. To learn more about this ensemble and see what is next for Voices of Concinnity, please visit: concinnityct.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @ConcinnityCT
Sarah Kaufold, Artistic Director
Consonare Choral Community