For years Washington had possibly too many large choral groups giving too many performances of the same small number of overdone pieces, but little by little the titans of that scene have been making their exits. Robert Shafer was ousted from the Washington Chorus in 2006, eventually replaced by Julian Wachner, only to go on to found yet another volunteer chorus. Donald McCullough did not survive the financial collapse of the Master Chorale of Washington, only the first group in the area to succumb to the pressure of contracting revenues as a result of the credit crisis, while others spring up to take the places of the fallen. Earlier today, in an e-mail sent to members of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Norman Scribner announced that he will retire from the leadership of the ensemble he founded and has led for forty-five years:
As you can well imagine, this decision has not been an easy one. The musical joy and fulfillment I have experienced over these past forty-five years has enriched my life beyond measure. My friendships with so many of you, forged in the mutual love we all share for great music, will remain in my heart forever. I have always understood, however, that there is a natural rhythm to all human endeavors. After careful consideration of the many factors in this matter, my innermost instincts have confirmed for me that the time has now come for me to pass the torch to a new leader for Choral Arts.The resignation is not immediate but will become effective on August 31, 2012, allowing the organization a period of two years to decide on a successor. Whoever takes up that torch will have some challenges to face: the group's revenue was reportedly down by 20% last year, and the precipitous shortfall in fund raising experienced by Cathedral Choral Society and other ensembles will not likely improve any time soon.