Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Brukhman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sam. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a knack for creating and cultivating new ideas in art. When I was in high school, I became obsessed with choral music after it saved me from nearly being kicked out of my private school because of my low GPA. The communal singing aspect paired with being vulnerable in a safe space made me realize how important human connection is. It made me introspective and self-aware about a lot of inner pain I was going through. This, in turn, made my grades go up and fostered an obsession with choral music.
I graduated from Westminster Choir College in 2015 and quickly moved to Dallas, TX where I got my first job teaching choir in high school. I recognized the beauty and power of choral music but also noticed that it was mostly inaccessible to the average person.
My response was to create an ensemble of singers that would both entertain and foster a love for choral music through modern instrument technology, unconventional use of performance space, creative concert programming, and decentralized means of music distribution. We are exploring the boundaries of the choral medium through honest choral storytelling, therefore, making it easier for audiences to connect with what we do.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I would say that 90% of what we do is navigate through bumpy roads but in a good way. It’s like putting puzzle pieces together to make a beautiful musical product. It takes a village to sustain our operations and Verdigris would not be in existence without the help of our audiences, board members, contributors, and musicians. I would particularly like to highlight our administrator, Jonathan Greer, and singer (and my girlfriend), Erinn Sensenig, who have gone above and beyond the call to help with organizational administrative tasks.
We believe that, by exploring the boundaries of the choral medium, we can reach a wider spread of audiences in DFW and beyond. In order to do this, we constantly have to ask ourselves questions like: how do we get the average person in Dallas to come to our concert? What types of concerts will attract people that do not listen to classical music? How can we best connect with our audiences and make them feel new perspectives about choral music? How do we empower people to develop an appreciation for choral music? The answers are as complex as they are interesting.
During our first concert series called “Becoming Alive: A Musical Narration of The Velveteen Rabbit” we combined choral music and synthesizer improvisation to support a live narration of the children’s classic. We knew that people would know the story and we thought that the addition of the synthesizer would be an intriguing idea as its being used everywhere in pop music today. We essentially took what the audience knew and was familiar with already and then augmented it by introducing choral music into the performance. The resulting product interested people that had never been to a choral concert before.
Verdigris Ensemble – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Verdigris Ensemble is a non-profit professional choral organization specializing in story-driven performances that engage more than just the ear of the listener. Our performances are accessible because they take what audiences already know and then augment their experience with choral music. We are proud of the fact that we draw all of our singers and staff exclusively from the Dallas area.
In the spring, Verdigris will perform a piece called The Consolation of Apollo by the composer, Kile Smith. The piece combines texts by Boethius and the direct transcripts of the Apollo 8 mission to the moon to create a 30-minute choral work. As part of this concert series, we will create a multi-sensory experience for the audience by performing this in the Perot Museum’s space exhibit hall.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
From a business perspective, success is defined by being data-driven about our performances. For example, we have seen a significant increase in audience attendance since our first performance which is a big success for us. Also, we have seen increased daily website traffic since we launched in March.
From an artistic perspective, If at least one person in the audience is affected by the musical product we create, we have done our job. This was particularly apparent in our most recent community outreach program. Verdigris recently reached out to a specialized memory facility in Dallas to sing familiar carols to residents. Seeing residents’ faces light up as we sang carols that they recognized was both inspiring and gratifying. Some even joined us in the singing!
One of the biggest compliments I ever received was from a woman that attended our most recent Verdigris Christmas concert. She said that she could tell how much everyone in the ensemble loved each other and the music. She said that the group was easily accessible and welcoming, but also challenging in its choral programming. Verdigris felt warm to her and it made her want to come back to another performance.
- Tickets: $10-$25
- Website: http://verdigrismusic.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/verdigrisensemble
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/verdigrisensemble
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/verdigrisensemb
Dickie Hill Photography