There’s More to Life than Competition
Northern Lights focusing on revamping show formats, giving back to the community.
The Toronto Northern Lights (TNL) are known internationally for wild and crazy contest packages. Convention goers would never know what the chorus is going to do, but expect that it will be done at a high level and be very entertaining. The work required to meet those expectations can consume a lot of time. Other things through the year can become afterthoughts. Some of those “afterthoughts” have included two major shows produced annually – TNL’s spring and Christmas shows. “It’s not that we haven’t worked hard on them,” says Show Chairman Patrick Brown, “but it was always a ‘just-in-time’ approach, preventing us from being innovative and creative.”
Unlike contests, anyone who has been to TNL’s shows consistently over the last number of years would be able to tell you exactly what to expect – the look, the lineup, everything. “The result has been dwindling ticket sales and a feeling internally that shows are more of a burden than an exciting event on our schedule,” says Brown. Not good when, from a management perspective, you rely on those shows to help your bottom line and pay for coaching, props, costumes, etc.
But the tide is starting to turn in Toronto. For one, the chorus is now an official registered charity, not with a goal to raise money for themselves, but to channel it back into the community. TNL’s mandate has been rewritten to include initiatives related to community giving and developing music in youth. That will be tied into the marketing of the chorus.
In addition, a renewed focus and energy is going into shows. “We want people who see us for the first time to be blown away, but we also want to have our regular audience members start to expect the unexpected, much like our contest sets, so they don’t want to miss a show,” says Brown. “We have generated a list of show concepts, and are currently planning not just for this year, but two and three years out as well. As a result, there is some excitement starting to build in the membership again. “Our Christmas show on December 3 will start to scratch the surface on those changes, but it’s only the beginning.”
This year’s Christmas show will be TNL’s last at the beautiful Metropolitan United Church before changing venues next year. It will feature a taste of previous shows, including a brass quartet, but some new flavours as well, including Toronto-based Vocal Jazz Trio, the Ault Sisters.
For tickets to “Christmas at the Met” go to www.northernlightschorus.com/events and use promo code “TNLMet16” to get a 10% discount on tickets ordered before Nov 28.