Making a living on the competitive church-music circuit
A soprano and a composer share their struggles and successes.
By Colin Fleming
April 27, 2014
IF YOU SPEND much time in Boston, you’re spending a decent chunk of your life in the company of people who took a lot of years to be able to do a special something not a lot of other people can do. We see it when David Ortiz hits a grand slam or when an MIT physicist dreams up a theory that just might explain the origin of the universe, and we see it in all sorts of smaller and quieter ways. Into that last category falls a particular kind of musician that’s big in these parts: the church performer.
Boston is a great hotbed of classical music, and it’s all there, ripe for the listening — and often for free — in any one of dozens of area churches. But when you’re sitting in the pews, immersed in whatever you’re immersed in, there can be a tendency to take the musicians around you for granted. You don’t always consider, say, how tough it is to make a living as an artist, especially when your venue tends to let people in for free on Sundays. And you don’t always think about how difficult it is to succeed in a field that requires you to be able to bounce from one singing gig on Newbury Street, hop a Green Line car and bang out another in Newton, before zooming back to Harvard Square for the final performance of the day.
That’s the way it is with Sarah Moyer, a sprite of a woman with a bright — and big — soprano voice who sings 200 or so times a year, often for several performances in a single day. We met at the Starbucks in Brookline’s Washington Square, where she sat with me, nursing a cold, something a singer who lives by singing alone has to just power through.
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