So I have finally extracted my thumb and had a look at the survey results. Huge thanks to everyone who responded. It has proved useful and notice has been taken. What follows is a summary of the results and some comments from myself.
Would you do it again? 97% yes.
Would you recommend it to someone else? 100% yes.
Did you think it was a good choice of venue? 100% yes.
Were you happy with the available refreshments? 95% yes.
So that was fairly conclusive. Obviously, not everyone responded to the survey but it was enough of you to be representative.
What Could We Do Differently?
A few recurring themes came up in the 'What could we do differently?' section. There was only one theme that took me by surprise. So, in no particular order, and with my comments, here are the issues raised.
A bit more variety would have been appreciated. In particular you would like to have seen some more savoury items. Making soup available was also suggested.
I will look to have more savoury items available. All the cakes were donated by participants, for the 2018 event I will make it clear that the donated items can be savoury as well as sweet.
The soup may be a bit more awkward, it will depend on available facilities. If it turns out to be feasible I will endevour to make it happen.
Duration and Start Times
Some people suggested the 24 hours was too long and suggested that maybe a 12 hour event would be better. Also a morning start time would be preferred for the 24 hour option.
For me the 24 hour aspect is an important part of it. I am not sure I can justify it now as the origins are now fuzzy. However I see it as one of the things that differentiates the event from any other come and sing. I understand the 12 hour thinking, but for me it is not different enough from standard come and sings. It also brings its own set of scheduling issues, it would mean an early start. I understand that it is a big ask of the participants, which is part of why I plan on doing it every two years rather than annually.
My preferred option would be midday on the Saturday through to midday on the Sunday. However, if you use a church as the venue that is not possible. To finish in time to be clear for services on the Sunday morning we would have to start at 5am on the Saturday. Even if we could find a venue that would be happy with that it is obviouosly impractical. So don't use a church I hear you say. Again there are issues with that option, you would probably have to pay for staff to man the venue and there are legal issues. I am not convinced starting later would be helpful either, especially for those of us tidying up afterwards.
The staff at St Paul's were extremely supportive and accommodating from the very start, there would have to be a very good reason not to go back there (assuming they are willing to have us back!). Which means that for the meantime we are stuck with the restrictions on timings that goes with it.
The main issue raised was that there was too much time allocated to the Duruflé Requiem. There was mixed reaction over the flexibility of breaks, some were happy with the flexibility, some wanted more rigidity. The thing that surprised me was the number of people requesting fewer and shorter breaks, this was mainly to avoid falling asleep and the temptation to go home.
All entirely my fault. For me this was the thing that I got wrong. I had a fixed idea of doing the Mozart run-through at the time, if not the date, of his death, and I did not want to put the breakfast break towards the end of the second rehearsal period of the Chilcott. At the same time I wanted a longer break roughly half way through the event coinciding with breakfast. All of which led to the timings put in place. I hope to do it better next time. As with the 2016 event, the schedule will be published on the website beforehand so people can comment if I get it horribly wrong again.
Not having so many longer breaks was the thing that surprised me in the survey. I was working on the premise that 24 hours is a long time to sing for, even if you are a regular singer. I also wanted to allow time for people to get to the refreshments during the breaks. I would be interested in people's thoughts on this matter.
I stand by having some flexibility in the timings of breaks, the conductors are able to sense when a break is needed. However, some timings should be hard and fast like breakfast and the runthroughs.
A few people suggested there could be a softy furnishings area where people could take a nap and have a break.
I agree in principle. I am not sure how practical it would be though. I will think about what can be done. I suspect it might be just advising people to bring a cushion and a pillow.
Some people raised the issue that being required to be there for the whole 24 hours was off-putting and could it be made clear that it was not compulsory.
The intent and the hope was that people would do the full 24 hours. However I always understood that that would be too much for some people and that some people would dip out for a kip. If I had said upfront that you couold turn up when you like my fear was that the early morning shift would end up being a small chamber choir. For those who were there for the graveyard shift I am sure you don't regret it due to the fantastic job that Jeremy did.
How best to approach this is something I will have to think about.
There were three clear favourites, that being Brahms, Rutter and Verdi. There were some other interesting suggestions as well, although not all of them being Requiems.
Much as I would love to include some of the suggestions (especially the Bach B Minor which I have yet to do as a Tenor), one of the parameters that I am not going to change is that the repertoire is Requiems (apart from the anthem of course).
It would be easy to just take the three favourites as the selection for 2018, but Brahms and Verdi in one event would be foolish I think. I already had it in mind to do the Brahms and the Rutter. German or English for the Brahms though, they were both fairly equally requested. I am making no committments to the repertoire at this stage in the proceedings.
Again, thank you to everyone who responded to the survey. It was mostly very positive, which was great to see. I look forward to the 2018 event being even better.