Welcome to Foldschoir Central!
Here you'll find everything you need to know to become a part of a Ben Folds Symphony Choir, or for regularly updating information if you're already booked to sing on an upcoming concert.
View upcoming symphony concert dates
Register for Foldschoir participation
Notify Kerry of interest and availability in a concert
Download everything you'll need to audition for and/or sing with a Foldschoir
Upload your audition audio (or video)
Reference videos of past performances
Photo gallery from past performances
What is a Foldschoir?
Ben Folds, the great singer/songwriter/pianist and judge on NBC's "The Sing Off", often performs with symphony orchestras all over the world, and when he does, he uses volunteer choirs made up of talented fans of his music who either live in the location of the symphony concert or who serve as out-of-town "ringers" who are happy to fly themselves in for the gig and take care of their accomodations, all for the unique and exciting opportunity to perform with a musical icon and hero to millions.
My job is to organize these "Foldschoirs", as I've dubbed them, in each city. A Foldschoir is made up of two women and six men, singing SATB, with high tenors singing the alto parts (to produce a more rock 'n roll sound than a fully mixed choir).
On which songs does the Foldschoir perform?
Although the setlists change from show to show, the Foldschoir is usually featured on seven or eight songs in the set. Currently, the choir has parts on the following songs:
- Zak and Sara
- The Ascent of Stan
- Still Fighting It (sometimes)
- Steven's Last Night in Town
- One Angry Dwarf...
Over time, the set of music we perform may change slightly, and I'll always update this page when anything does change.
How do you select the Foldschoirs?
I have a network of musicians, educators and friends all over the U.S. and, to some extent, throughout the world, and I usually rely on those connections to help me locate the right people for the gig.
Does a Foldschoir member get to meet Ben?
Absolutely! Ben has told me repeatedly that it's important to him that he get to have at least a quick moment to say hello and thank you to the choir in person on the day of the performance, and a growing regular practice has been for us to take a few group pics together at some point in the day as well as get an individual shot on your camera with him. He really does appreciate that the choir members are interested in performing with him for the love of it, and that many times people make financial and time sacrifices to make the special event happen. Ben's schedule is very tight on these days, and there are always some planned activities like media appearances and planned meet and greets that he must do, so it's courteous of us as Foldschoir people to respect that he needs to manage his energy output on these days. Therefore, I'll take charge of working as a liason between Ben and the choir to make sure that the group gets a chance to meet him at some point, while also making sure that he doesn't get overwhelmed by "fan" requests.
However, one of the newest additions to the Foldschoir experience is that Ben has been taking the choirs out for a drink after the concert, usually at the hotel at which we're staying. I'll stay in touch with the choir as the gig approaches with details about that plan, but the hang has been a lot of fun and it's always something to look forward to.
What typically happens on the day of the concert?
The schedule of your event will likely vary from this "template" a bit, but a fairly normal day looks like this:
10:00am - Choir rehearsal (led by Kerry) in a backstage rehearsal room/green room with piano, chairs, waters
11:30am - Catered lunch for the choir and tour staff backstage.
12:30pm - Orchestra takes the stage and warms up. I check to make sure the stage area for the choir is set properly with nine chairs (the Foldschoir plus me), four music stands (with stand lights, usually) and four mics, set up in either one long row or two stacked rows, and a monitor set up for each mic position. We're usually set up on stage left, near the double-basses and low brass, although it can vary.
1:00pm - Rehearsal begins with the orchestra and Ben Folds. Rehearsal usually fairly closely follows performance order, so you'll be able to start organizing your music at that time.
3:30pm - Rehearsal ends and you have the rest of the afternoon free. The end of rehearsal is a common time for us to catch Ben for our photo session/meet and greet time.
7:00pm - Call time for Foldschoir to report to backstage, dressed and ready to go.
8:00pm to 10:00pm - Concert, followed by 20 minutes of Ben playing solo for the audience as an encore.
11:30 to ? - A hang with Ben at the hotel.
The audiences for these concerts are usually between 2000 to 3000 excited fans. The roar from the crowd as Ben enters the stage at the beginning of the concert is something I'll never get over, I think. The Foldschoir gets a great seat for the gig, as we stay on stage in between the tunes on which we sing.
Are comp tickets available to Foldschoir members?
It is my understanding that Ben and his management team would love to be able to uniformily thank the Foldschoir members with comp tickets for the performance in which they're involved, but, unfortunately, since the orchestra's manage the comp tickets, we never know what their availability might be until the last moment...usually the afternoon of the concert. Therefore, I always recommend that people selected for a Foldschoir make sure their friends and family purchase tickets as soon as possible, because nearly every symphony show Ben plays sells out, and often very quickly. I will try to select the Foldschoirs as early as possible to help make this work out for people optimally. However, there have often been comps that turn up on the concert day, and people who let me know that they're interested in them, should they become available, will have the opportunity to recieve them. Generally, I would suggest that a maximum of 2 comps per person would be the most you should expect.
How much music preparation is involved?
The current set of music performed by the Foldschoir is, by most choral music standards, pretty easy to learn, and you have Part Tracks available for download right now by clicking the link above on this page, so you can start to work out your parts immediately. Although you don't have to have the music memorized, I would suggest that you become so comfortable with the parts and the forms of the songs as a whole that you wouldn't be too afraid to perform if you, say, didn't have a good line of sight to your charts on the day of the gig, or if it were extra dark on stage and you didn't have a stand light. I'll do everything I can to make sure those things don't happen, but we'd like for the choir to not be buried in their sheet music, but to be animated and to sing aggressively and confidently in the concert.
How do we dress for the concert?
We wear black for these gigs, to fit in with the orchestra without having to be in tuxes (and many orchestras do the same as us, actually). Guys, wear black slacks, shoes and socks with a black long-sleeve dress shirt. Gals, a black dress that's not super-short or low cut, and it needs to have medium to long sleeves (I understand that not everybody has a dress that does this). You can also choose to wear black pants and a long sleeve blouse. Particularly tall ladies ought to plan on not wearing their heels, to increase the likelihood that they'll be able to match heights with less-tall ladies who may wear them.
You will be able to change between the rehearsal and the performance, unless the schedule is out of the ordinary and doesn't allow for it.
Other tips or inside knowledge about the experience?
Certainly. I'm glad I asked myself that.
It's a good idea to bring mints to the gig, because you'll be essentially singing cheek-to-cheek with your mic partner, as you both try to stay very close to the mics whenever you're singing. The mics we use are usually SM-58 dynamic mics, and they work optimally if your mouth is very close (as in, within two inches of the mic).
Be mentally prepared to possibly not be able to take pictures during the rehearsal, because union regulations with most symphonies make that a big no-no. Ben doesn't care about pics of him, of course, but the orchestra members are often not happy to be photographed without their permission.
OK! I'm interested in being in a Foldschoir...what do I do now?
If I already know you and your voice well, and particularly if you've been in a Foldschoir in the past, you don't really need to make an audition recording for me. You'll be in my mailing list and you can just let me know, via the included webform, when you see a concert posting in a location and on a date that works for you, and I'll put you in the mix and let you know if you're selected for that group.
If I DON'T already know you and your voice, then I need to have you make an audition recording for me and upload it to my Audition Dropbox. See the links at the top of this page for everything you need to know about auditioning. You should only have to do this once, and then if you're in my system and you let me know of your interest in and availability for gigs as they come up, I'll be able to consider you for the groups.