Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that the 2019 Choral Day event has been canceled, not Choral Day in general. The festival will still take place every other year. It has also been changed to clarify that Band Day and Choral Day are separate events and don’t always occur on the same weekend.
Choral Day, an annual event where high school and St. Olaf choirs sing together, has been canceled this year due to reduced administrative staffing stemming from the College’s cost-cutting efforts.
With leaner administrative support, the music department was unable to coordinate both the Festival of Bands, also referred to as Band Day, and Choral Festival, also called Choral Day, which would have fallen one day apart from each other, said Anton Armstrong ’78, Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. The music department now plans to hold these festivals every other year.
“We have implemented changes in Choral and Band Day due to changes in staffing which impacts the support of the events, and also while we consider our budget, which is a factor in everything we do and in all decisions,” said Jean Parish, director of college relations for music organizations.
The staffing changes arise from the Strategic Resource Allocation Project (SRAP), the College’s multi-year cost-cutting, revenue-growing initiative. The project changed how Academic Administrative Assistant (AAA) positions work – AAAs no longer work for specific departments and instead serve the departments and programs housed in the academic buildings assigned to their team. These changes brought a 10 percent reduction in spending on AAAs and account for the staffing cuts at the music department.
Armstrong framed the changes as necessary to avert financial shortfalls in the future.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments financially, but so that it doesn’t come on the back of parents and students’ tuition,” Armstrong said.
Some students who participate in the events feel open to having the Festival of Bands and Choral Festival occur every other year. Emily Geiger ’20, a vocal music education major, said she does not view the change as detrimental because the performances will still happen. She also noted that it was primarily a financial decision.
Armstrong maintains a positive outlook and views the changes as a unique way to highlight the work of the ensembles.
“I’m sad in one sense as I said that we can’t offer [choral festival] this year, but I also think it gives us another opportunity to reach out and make it even more special in different ways than we’ve done before,” Armstrong said.
Reporting contributed by Josie Lynn (firstname.lastname@example.org)