Why Choral Music Makes the Holidays Meaningful November 20, 2023

Choral Music is such an important part of the holiday season. What is it about singing together that makes the holidays mean so much more? For the answer, we went to Liza W. Beth, who is the vice president of communications and membership of Chorus America.

During the holidays, no matter how you celebrate, music is a central part of the season. And choral music and the holidays are particularly intertwined.

Why exactly is that? Tradition plays a role, of course. But, above all, I think we turn to choral music this time of year because the rich and beautiful sound of voices joined in song evokes the sense of togetherness that we yearn for during the holidays. When we want to feel close to our loved ones and our fellow humans, choral music offers us a means to celebrate, reflect, and connect.

The connection between choral music and being part of something larger than ourselves is something many of us instinctively feel. It’s also supported by research, including Chorus America’s own studies. The Intrinsic Impact Audience Project shows that audiences are deeply affected by choral performances, and that the experience is especially powerful when they feel like they have connected with others through the music. That could mean feeling closer to the family and friends that accompanied them to the performance, or it could mean learning about a different culture or tradition through intentional programming.

Chorus America’s series of Chorus Impact Studies also shine a light on the benefits that choral music and singing together bring to individuals and communities. Singing together connects people, builds stronger relationships, and fosters a sense of belonging. And the 54 million Americans who sing in choruses volunteer, donate, and give back to their communities in a big way. As creators of these shared experiences for audiences and singers alike, organizations like Cathedral Choral Society are a powerful force for good.

So at your next choral performance this holiday season, whether you find yourself in the audience or on the stage, I hope you’ll take an extra moment to pause. Think of the many people who have gathered, in one particular place and at one particular moment, to be part of a musical and artistic experience that nourishes belonging, and connection, and hope.

Those powerful feelings ripple outward from the concert hall or cathedral, throughout your community, and beyond – just as the joy and togetherness of the holiday season touches our lives all year long.

Liza W. Beth is the vice president of communications and membership at Chorus America, the advocacy, research, and professional development organization that advances the choral field. Learn more at chorusamerica.org.