The Arts

Financial concerns could make this final season for North Fork Chorale

Lois Ross, left, leads the choir at a 2011 practice session of North Fork Chorale.
Lois Ross, left, leads the choir at a 2011 practice session of North Fork Chorale.

Members of the North Fork Chorale gathered at director Lois Ross’ dinning room table Friday morning. The discussion ranged from recent vacations, family updates and the group’s upcoming December concert series.

It is not an uncommon occurrence for members.

“In between songs everyone is talking to each other,” said Chorale treasurer Gene Yourch.

“Friendships come out of our group,” added his wife Mary, the group’s secretary. “There isn’t a person here I wouldn’t move my chair to sit next to. Everyone is family.”

It’s a 78-year tradition and one the Yourchs and other members hope to continue for years to come despite dwindling financial resources. 

In recent years the group’s finances have taken a hit, said Ms. Ross, the group’s 21st director. Declining membership and rising costs, she said, have put the group in danger of “ceasing to exist.”

“There are a lot of expenses and they add up fast,” she said.

Fees collected from North Fork Chorale’s 48 members and a yearly spring fundraiser comprise the group’s annual $20,000 operating budget. However, that barely covers the cost of insurance, advertising, printing programs and hiring someone to help set up the sound system at certain venues, Mr. Yourch said.

“When I became treasurer I told everyone bluntly we are going to run out of money and there isn’t going to be a chorale,” Mr. Yourch said. “We face a declining membership. We had a long run where we had 60 people. As the membership shrank everything else shrank with it.”

Donations and ticket sales have also declined as more singing groups pop up on the North Fork, Ms. Ross said.

“There are more concerts to attend and more organizations to donate to,” she said. “How many can people give to?”