Karen Brown Davison decided the world should see what goes in to setting up for a concert by the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra, and created this wonderful time lapse of the astounding volunteer effort. Since this time, we've moved to Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley. But BCCO's singers continue to contribute skills and labor to create music for everyone: all concerts are free, and there are no auditions.
The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) is a chorus of over 200 singers who perform choral masterworks in two free concert series each year. BCCO began in 1966 as an adult education class taught by Eugene Jones, a bass opera singer and firefighter who dreamed of creating a chorus of non-auditioned singers and an orchestra drawn from the community that together would perform choral masterworks in free concerts for the general public. He led BCCO for over 20 years, becoming the first African American conductor of a large Bay Area chorus and orchestra. From 1988–2011, BCCO was led by Music Director Arlene Sagan, who fostered her vision of a "one-room schoolhouse" where singers at all levels of experience were welcome and would learn from each other. Under Sagan's direction, the chorus's repertoire expanded and the organization sponsored two choral composition competitions of new works. In 2011, Ming Luke became Music Director, only the third artistic director in BCCO's almost 50-year history. A champion of music education, Luke has initiated a conductor mentoring program and a workshop to create a chorus in Berkeley High School.
Under Music Director Ming Luke, BCCO sponsored a Young Composer Competition, which invited composers ages 40 and under to write a short piece for chorus and orchestra. Submissions came in from across the country, where they were reviewed by a panel of judges led by Honorary Chair John Adams. Each of the three finalists (all in their mid-twenties) was flown to Berkeley for a rehearsal with the chorus, and for concerts on May 3 and 5, 2013. The winning composition was determined by votes from the judges, the chorus, the orchestra, and the audiences at those concerts. Each finalist received $500 and a recording of his performance. The winner of the competition received an additional $500, and his piece was be performed again at BCCO's 2013 fall concerts. The lead donor to the competition is Meyer Sound Laboratories.