Voices of Omaha’s sole mission since 1969 has been to present an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah without admission charge as a gift to the community. The 195-voice non-auditioned chorus “is committed to developing a diverse audience and chorus membership by maintaining relevance in the present and nurturing musicians of all ages to assure an audience and chorus for the future.” More recently, the group struggled to engage new singers, so they launched a seven-year strategic growth project in 2011 to assess their image, their diversity of audience and chorus members, and their educational outreach.
As a result of this plan, they have attracted twenty high school-age students who participate in the chorus or orchestra; they print programs, announcements and audition materials in English and Spanish to broaden their audience turnout; they waive dues and provide scores and concert attire for high school performers; they create an audio description of the performance in English for those who are visually impaired, and they have an ASL interpreter for audience members who have deafness.
“Seeing young people, singers and instrumentalists, excited about performing a Baroque masterpiece like Messiah is thrilling to me,” says Voices of Omaha artistic director Edward Hurd. “These talented young people breathe life into everything they do and their enthusiasm is contagious. Indeed, they are the serious choir and orchestra members of the future. It brings us great joy to fan the flames of their passion for fine music!”