Work not over for Aspen Choral Society |

Work not over for Aspen Choral Society

Rick CarrollAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen Choral Societys Messiah concerts may be done for the year, but that doesnt mean the face of the organization is taking it easy.Well, maybe, just for a little while these days, conductor and composer Ray Adams is kicking his feet up. But for a good eight months of the year, the chatty artist has the task of raising money for a shoestring nonprofit that keeps on moving on, in spite of its humble balance sheet.Compared to Aspens behemoth Aspen Music Festival & School if its even fair to make that comparison the Aspen Choral Society is chump change. Not that Adams considers it competition.Unlike its mighty counterpart, the Aspen Choral Societys talent hails from the Roaring Fork Valley, though on occasion Adams may enlist help from as far as New York or California.

Concert masters earn as much as $1,500 (thats less than the price of three cheap seats to ZZ Topps New Years Eve show at Belly Up Aspen), and principal players may command in the neighborhood of $500. At the most recent Handel-inspired Messiah productions, held in Glenwood Springs and the Wheeler Opera House in downtown Aspen, soloists received $100 for their efforts.As for Adams, his compensation package was worth about $56,500 in the 2005 tax year, according to the organizations tax return. His insurance plan comprised $6,045 of the package, while another $12,695 was earmarked for Adams to compose his requiem.Some people say I make too much, but if I had my way, Id be doing two concerts a month, says Adams, the only person who earns a full-time salary from the choral society, which, along with its December Messiah concerts, offers a spring concert as well. The board is very supportive, and knows what it takes.Other expenses for the organization in 2005 included $2,379 for advertising, $2,244 for postage, $4,116 for rent, and $34,160 for professional fees, among other expenses. Adams says he takes home $3,500 a month. This spring or summer he hopes to join an artists colony in Southern California. After that, its back to Aspen. In the past Adams made extra money by house painting on the side, but a spate of back problems has sidelined him. The finances of Aspen Choral Society can be a challenge, Adams says. Attendees of the Messiah are asked to a make voluntary contributions; the most recent four performances brought in about $6,000, according to Adams.The bulk of the money comes from individual contributions. Adams says there are a group of donors on whom he can depend.If youre the face of an organization, youre always gripping and grinning, he says. The choral society is all inclusive, meaning anyone who wants to sing can. Thats a source of pride for Adams, who proudly says that as many as 160 singers participated in the most recent Messiah concerts.

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