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Financial: How much should we Charge for our choir?

Dear Listers,

Here's a compilation of the responses from various people thruout the country regarding fees for hiring a choir for an outside concert. Thanks to all who responded. Such a great forum for us to learn from each other! ~Cynthia Powell

Our 50-voice chorus has as a policy of clearing $1,000 for a performance. That means usually asking for about 1500 to 1800. We pay conductor and accompanist 250 each (we find that accompanist often has to do more work than the conductor, e.g., when she has to register on a new-to-her organ a major work that we performed with orchestra.) Also, we sometimes have to pay for moving a piano, tuning a piano, borrowing risers, etc.
That said, for several charity gigs, we've sung for free, and of course we sing for free at the group member's weddings, funerals, etc.
About 20-25 years ago, the 85-voice chorus I was singing with in Toronto had at least two such "external" gigs. One of them was to supply the choral background for a then-new Pepsi commercial (Pepsi Canada I don't think it was broadcast in the US, but I may be wrong about that). Studio etc. were arranged, IIRC, by the advertising agency, recording
took the better part of a Saturday afternoon, and the chorus was paid something like $2500. The other was a contract with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for their family Christmas concert (one performance):
they had decided to perform an orchestral version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and wanted warm bodies not so much to sing (as I recall) as to act out the several verses, with some costuming I recall ome of us gentlemen wearing tutus over our trousers. For this we were paid $2000.

This year, the 65-voice chorus I sing with in Manchester (NH) was hired by the local symphony orchestra, along with two other choruses, to sing the choral part (about 15 minutes' worth) in Mahler's Second ("Resurrection") Symphony, next weekend (April 23-24); and the fee for that is $1000, I believe.

How any of this translates into useful information for your situation I don't really know: it would depend on what "to sing in a concert series" actually means. If fifteen minutes in one concert, that's one thing; if you're presenting a whole evening's concert on one or more occasions, that's another. (For the former, a fee of some sort would seem appropriate; for the latter, a proportion of the gate might be in order; and what's "reasonable" surely depends in part on what kind of revenue the church anticipates from the concert, or the series, in which your choir is singing. In all the instances I've mentioned, the venue was/is local to the chorus: the Mahler is being sung in a large church
that we have rented in the past for our own concerts, e.g. (Of course, Toronto is large enough that "30 miles each way" is effectively local.
My daily commute was longer than that.)



My group charges $1200 for a Christmas gig, $1000 for spring. That probably sounds ridiculously low to a NYC based group, but that's about all we can get here in old Virginia.


The Bach Society of Saint Louis charges $2500 for a run-out concert. But we pay an accompanist and about a third of the chorus. As conductor, extra performances are within my yearly pay, already generous. I also conduct a volunteer chorus which would do a run-out for $1000-1500.


I plan an artistic series at a suburban Chicago church. I would offer you $1000or moredepending on what you were doing. We hired a 'city' early music ensemble to 'do' a Bach cantata for us last year8 singers, 7 instrumentalists. I think we did that for about $2000. They all make their living from musicpossibly a different scenario. Touring college choirs$500 to $1000. Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus (one of the world's finestbut local)$500. Hope that helps.

Do they charge admission on their series? How many people come? (What do they take in at the gate/offering?) Is it underwritten by someone (big bucks?)? What else is on the series and what do they pay them? I'd say something like $1000. Maybe that's way too low, but I think it really depends on what they are expecting to take in and what they have in resources. You don't want to give it away 40 people is a lot of person-hours of commitment time to do it! But if it's an area with no money, then it could be lower. Good luck!

Cynthia Powell
The Stonewall Chorale, NYC