The Manchester Chorale: Creating a Successful Musical Ensemble

February 25th, 2014

The Manchester Chorale: Creating a Successful Musical EnsembleToday we’re revealing the story of a talented musical ensemble based in Manchester, England, called the Manchester Chorale. The choir, originally established by the BBC, can also be proud of an admirable online presence. Read more about their success in the following interview.

The website of the Manchester Chorale is a wonderful example of a choir website created for the publication of concerts, recruitment of new members, and much more. We have interviewed webmaster Reg Talbot for his words on the activities and plans for this talented musical group.

Can you please introduce us to the choir?

The Manchester Chorale is a mixed voice choir of around 50 singers based in Manchester England, under the direction of Jill Henderson-Wild a talented and experienced vocal conductor. The choir is well known for the high quality of its singing, its well-blended sound, its sensitive interpretation of a wide range of musical styles and its versatility in working in both large scale venues and in more intimate settings.

What is the history of the Manchester Chorale?

The choir was founded over 30 years ago by the BBC and quickly established a reputation for high quality music making. Independent of the BBC since the late 1980s, the choir has performed regularly in the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and has made many television appearances including singing as finalists in the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year competition. The choir regularly features on the Daily Service on Radio 4. Recent performance highlights include the UK premiere of Karl Jenkins “The Peacemakers” and a world premiere of “Pure Gold: a 4 x 4 relay” by Luke Carver Goss with the Black Dyke Band which was broadcast on Radio 3. The choir also performs concerts in smaller venues around the UK and has traveled abroad to sing in France, Norway, Germany, Portugal and the Isle of Man.

Why did you choose to create a website for your choir?

The choir originally created a website to provide a point of contact for members, to record its activities and to promote its concerts. When we moved the site over to Webnode it was an opportunity to redesign. The new site has enabled the choir to advertise our concert programme more widely . The website also continues to allow us to show off our extensive repertoire of music including samples from our audio recordings from CDs we have made.

Listen to audio recordings by the Manchester Chorale

Do you actively try to get more visits to your website? If so, how?

We do two main things – spreading the word about the website through Concert posters & flyers, programmes, tickets, business cards and recruitment material. We also try to design the website so that people interested in choral music can find it. I’ve tried to choose meta-tags that correspond to the search terms potential visitors are likely to use. We get some of that information by looking at the website statistical analyses provided by Webnode, especially the search terms people have used. We are getting a steady stream of visitors, some of whom have booked the Chorale and several who have ended up by joining us, either as Full Members or Guest Singers (for performances where we need a larger choir). Almost all contacts have been relevant to our interests.

How do you connect with choir members and potential members online?

The website has a Contact Us feature which allows visitors to express an interest in either singing with the choir or hiring the choir by completing a simple online form. This is automatically communicated by email to the choir committee by the web-master for the appropriate member to respond. We also keep an online address book to communicate with members of our audience.

Do you have any tips for musicians and musical groups on maintaining a good website?

Essentially try to keep the website – especially the Homepage – uncluttered in appearance. Sub-pages can be used to give more information about things headlined on the Homepage.

We also try to make clear what the website is for, which in our case is recruiting of new members, promoting our performances, getting bookings for the choir and providing tickets, once we’ve made our new CD that will also be promoted on the website. Hopefully these aims are the first thing website visitors see when arriving at the Homepage.

Finally it is vital to keep the website up-to-date. This applies especially to upcoming performances and to the repertoire (which is changing all the time as our Musical Director introduces new music, and new engagements come on stream). Potential new members do like to see what we’re singing so that they can decide if we’re the sort of choir they’re looking for.

What other online or offline methods do you use to promote the choir?

We use Twitter and Facebook accounts to publicise our events and our own Flickr account. Our website URL goes on all of our publicity material. Posters and handbills are produced for every concert for display at and around the concert venue and as widely as possible by members. The choir is also a member of various online choral organisations including, British Choirs on the Net and the Making Music organisation which provides advice on concert promotion and where we can also list our concert programme. Where possible we also try to publicise our activities in the local press and radio.

The Manchester Chorale also sings benefit concerts. Please tell us more about your experience about making a difference in your community.

The Chorale is itself a registered charity with a duty to bring choral music to the community. Many of our concerts are in churches in and around Manchester, often in support of local charities such as the Christie Hospital, Francis House Children’s Hospice, Cameo Aid and St Ann’s Hospice. In March 2014 we shall be helping raise money for NGAGE in Didsbury and Dr Kershaw’s Hospice in Oldham.

What are your future plans for the Manchester Chorale?

The choir is planning to make another professional recording for publication on a CD. We also would like to make some high quality video recordings which we can put up on our website and on You Tube. We are keen to maintain our high standards and develop our audiences while remaining a friendly and down to earth group who enjoy making music together.

Thank you Reg Talbot, for the interview and for sharing the story of this wonderful choir. We wish you all the best for the future! Don’t forget to read the guide on how to create a business website.