World Choir Games Flanders 2023

Choosing a running order for your concert or CD

  • [this is a version of a post which first appeared on my blog From the Front of the Choir]


    It’s only September, but many choirs are already thinking of their Christmas concerts. Christmas is also the time of year when choirs release new CDs.



    Choosing songs is not too hard, but programming them in a sensible order can be a challenge.


    choosing songs

    This is the easy part! Selecting songs for a concert or studio CD is not too difficult and I’ll be writing about that next week.


    Choosing songs for a live CD isn’t too hard either as you are limited mainly by the quality of any recordings that you have (and, of course, whether you were singing in tune on that day!).


    It is difficult to compare audio recordings though. Unlike images which you can put side by side to compare, you have to rely on your memory as to which of two tracks sounds better.


    putting them in order

    What I find much harder is to find a suitable running order for the songs that I’ve chosen.


    There are several schools of thought: some people group songs from the same country or style, whilst others sprinkle the different genres throughout the concert or CD and focus on aspects such as the dynamics of a particular song, whether it is anthemic or gentle, smooth or rhythmic.


    I do the latter – scatter different styles throughout – although I do sometimes put two songs together if they are from the same part of the world, and maybe stick in a song with English lyrics if I feel there’s been a run of foreign ones.


    does anybody notice?

    I try to make some sort of thread that runs through the programme by taking people on a journey with highs and lows. Whether I succeed or not is another matter. But is the effort worth it?


    I spend a long time thinking of the running order for each of our concerts, and I spend even longer on CDs. But does it really matter to audiences? Do they notice the ‘journey’ through a concert, or do they just take the songs one at a time?


    And with a CD, people can jump about and play tracks in any order they choose, so is the running order of any importance at all?


    I guess I hang on to the fact that nobody has ever commented on the running order, and being the optimist that I am, I assume that means that I’m doing something right!


    Do you agonise over the running order? Does it make any difference to you as an audience member or listener? I’d love to hear of your experiences.





    Chris Rowbury:

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