Auditions for Bass
What is Pastyme?
As we seek a new member of Pastyme, we thought that it would be useful for those who might be interested in joining us to know more about who we are and how we operate.
History of Pastyme—Pastyme was formed in 1999 by eight friends (Anne Rhymer, Wendy Myers, Faye Burner, Mary Donnelly, Jeff Konz, Lee Thomas, Tom Donnelly, and Max Mays) who had sung together in a number of different ensembles, including Mountain Madrigals, a larger non-profit ensemble that sang almost exclusively Renaissance music, both madrigals and motets. After this group ended, we wanted to keep singing together, but to perform a wider range of music while building on our Renaissance roots. We also wanted to make money doing it, so we formed a for-profit partnership. Pastyme has always been a double quartet, with two on each part. The group is stable, with only eight membership changes in 15 years. Current members are Pamela Miller, Nana Hosmer Griffin, Virginia DeMoss, Julie Williams, Jeff Konz, Lee Thomas, and Ken Wilson.
Repertoire—Pastyme sings a wide range of a cappella music—just about anything except the “beat-box” style of a cappella that many collegiate groups perform. We sing sacred music from the medieval period to the most recent compositions, but mostly Renaissance and contemporary. We also sing choral arrangements of jazz standards, popular music, early American music, and Christmas carols. We sing music from 2 to 8 parts, and each member of the group is able to sing their own part alone and to be a soloist upon occasion. Each of us ends up singing pieces that we don’t particularly care for, but we defer to the judgment and wishes of the group. We very occasionally perform pieces with accompaniment, but it has been very unusual for us for the last several years. We are considering collaborative projects with local chamber instrumental ensembles, however.
Management and decision-making—Pastyme is truly a partnership in every respect, in that we have no director. Every member of the group is able to bring pieces for us to consider, and we choose pieces to perform and put together performance programs together. We develop interpretations of pieces collaboratively in rehearsal, much like a string quartet. Various functional roles develop within the group—providing opening pitches, making bookings, providing tempos and cutoffs in performance, publicity, etc.—but these are fluid and not exclusive to one person. One of us handles the website and one of us handles finances, but only because those are roles best filled by one person only.
Performances—Most of our performances are within an hour of Asheville, but we have traveled further afield, singing in Charleston, Columbia, Atlanta, and central North Carolina. We have taken overnight trips, but only every two or three years. We sing for church services (usually Episcopal, and usually Evensong), weddings and funerals, and special events, including benefit concerts. We also put together our own concerts for the Christmas season and the spring.
Time commitment—We rehearse once a week, on Sunday afternoons, with a break during the summer and for a week or two after Christmas. Occasionally, we will rehearse more often if we need to, either in sectionals or as a group. In addition, we have a weekend retreat in early fall where we sing through new music and discuss our plans for the upcoming year. The Advent/Christmas season is our busiest time; the last few years, we have had about ten performances from mid-November through December. These are almost all on weekends, but we frequently have two (or more) performances over a single weekend. Most of us have day jobs and family commitments, which we understand, but Pastyme is our highest musical priority. Rehearsals and performances are missed infrequently and only with good reason.
Recordings—Pastyme has recorded two CDs. Es ist ein Ros’ was recorded in 2007 and consists entirely of Marian music, roughly equally divided between the Renaissance and contemporary compositions. Descends the Snow was recorded in 2011 and is a mix of seasonalmusic, both sacred and secular, for the holiday season. Pastyme sells these CDs at concerts, via mail-order, and online through CDBaby and iTunes. We have about 2000 discs in stock which are the shared property of the members of Pastyme. The new member of Pastyme will buy-in a share of these CDs on a cost basis, not with cash up front, but with an initial negative capital position in the partnership, and will share in revenues from sales.
Finances—We are a for-profit partnership registered with the IRS. We all have day jobs, but there is some distribution of profits during the year. Our annual revenues range from $7-10,000, with profits typically about $750-1000 per person. The share of profits is proportional to the share of revenue generation —if a member misses a performance (which occasionally happens), they generate less revenue and thereby get less profit. The earned profit is reported to the IRS and each member of the group is responsible for paying taxes on their share. Formal concert black is provided by each member; for sacred services, we wear liturgical robes and vestments owned by the group.
Social life—Being in Pastyme is more than just being a member of a musical group. We spend a lot of time together, in rehearsal, performance, on the road, and socializing (alcohol may be involved). There is an intimacy and trust in discovering new music, interpreting compositions, and creating music together in performance as a small group that cannot be overestimated—we are not only colleagues and partners, but friends in a committed relationship. As a result, our commitment to Pastyme, to treating each other with respect and care, and to simply have a good time together is probably more important for our success than the strong musical abilities and training that we all have.