After multiple seasons of double-digit growth in ticket sales and contributed income, Tucson’s professional, Grammy-nominated choir has taken a major leap that could lead to even bigger artistic and financial gains.
True Concord Voices & Orchestra this summer hired a part-time managing director to run its daily business, freeing up founder/music director Eric Holtan to pursue the burgeoning artistic side of the choir. That includes possible tours and a new recording and commissioning program sponsored with a $500,000 grant by longtime patron Dorothy Dyer Vanek.
Former UA Presents head Chuck Tennes assumed the manager’s job June 1. He will work about 20 hours a week, year-round, managing the staff that will include a new box office manager/information technology specialist set to join True Concord next month. Tennes also will be responsible for marketing and public relations, Holtan said.
“The growth has gotten us to the position where we can afford to add a line,” Holtan said. “We simply need more hands on deck because the volume of activity has been increasing. With the growing artistic projects, I have needed to free myself of the managerial (side).”
Tennes, who served two years on the True Concord Board of Directors, was the tour manager for True Concord’s 2015 New York City debut at Lincoln Center to mark the release of its CD “Far In the Heavens: Choral Music of Stephen Paulus.” The CD went on to snag twin Grammy nominations in 2016 — Best Choral Performance; and Best Contemporary Classical Composition, which it won for “Prayers & Remembrances,” the CD’s cornerstone that Stephen Paulus composed on commission for True Concord in 2011.
Tennes, who will continue operating his months-old ArtsTucson concert series, said he is walking into an organization “with a lot of momentum” largely driven by the national success of “Far in the Heavens.”
“I think that gave them an artistic credibility that made a lot of people pay attention,” he said, adding that his role will be to develop marketing and fundraising strategies to build on that momentum.
True Concord, with a choir that often numbers in the high teens and 20s and a chamber-sized orchestra, presents concerts in Tucson, Green Valley and Oro Valley, mostly in church halls. The group has been critically acclaimed for tackling repertoire not often if ever performed in Tucson.
Since its first season 14 years ago, the group has seen its season subscription rolls grow every season, bucking national trends that eschewed subscriptions. It also has seen its contributed income and earned income take major leaps and bounds every season.
Contributed income rose by 28 percent this year over last, Holtan said, and ticket revenues leaped 37 percent for the same period.
True Concord’s 2017-18 budget is $600,000.
“We’ve come a long ways. We started at zero,” said Holtan, who added that the group’s success lies largely in the idea that “we’re providing some unique programming through the fusion of voices and instruments, and doing repertoire that isn’t often done in our area.”
True Concord kicks off its 2017-18 season Oct. 12 with “The British Are Coming! Byrd to the Beatles.” There will be four performances that weekend, including in Green Valley.