Highlights of the 2015–16 season:
1. World premiere of Music, Awake! BFS commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec and author Terry Teachout to create a work in honor of John Sinclair’s 25 years as music director.
2. Record ticket sales for 2015–16 season with attendance from 32 states, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Serbia, and more. Over the past three years, ticket revenue has soared by 53%.
3. BFS governance was refreshed. BFS elected a new President, which hadn’t been done since 2005.
Goals for the 2016–17 season include:
1. Inspire – Provide classical music performances of the highest artistic quality to inspire the human spirit and engage diverse audiences.
· Implement a series of music and enrichment programs.
· Build the quality of the 160-voice, all volunteer choir by recruiting new members and retaining the highest-achieving members.
· Maintain the 60-member Bach Festival Orchestra by retaining the core orchestra membership and engaging other talented players as necessary.
· Engage community partners on collaborative programming to build new constituencies.
2. Involve – Provide opportunities for community members to become involved in and engaged by classical music.
· Implement an inclusive educational outreach program to increase knowledge and appreciation of the repertoire.
· Develop lectures, videos, and discussions designed to familiarize audiences with BFS repertoire and artists.
· Offer meet and greet events to bring musicians and audiences together.
· Nurture participation in choral singing at the highest level.
3. Influence – Expand BFS’s visibility in the community and its patron loyalty through its Patron Engagement model.
· Encourage first-time patrons to attend additional performances, through special programming, and ticket offers.
· Increase number of subscribers and performances each subscriber attends.
· Implement a social media plan to increase website hits and Facebook page visitors.
The most pressing needs of BFS fall into the strategic priority areas 1) Artistic and Educational Excellence, 2) Audience Development, and 3) Capacity Building. Each year, the Society’s highest priorities fluctuate based on specific needs. For the upcoming year, these are the following priorities:
CAPACITY BUIDLING. BFS has grown steadily since adopting its Strategic Plan in 2011 and needs a qualified FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONAL to lead and manage the Society’s fundraising efforts. A job description for this position and related expenses are currently being developed.
AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT. BFS needs technological upgrades to support marketing and programming. A new sound amplification system for its Bach @ The Alfond and outreach events, and a video camera and related software that can live-stream select programs. The technology upgrades will cost approximately $3,500.
ARTISTIC AND EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE. Expand programming for broad audiences. A family music program in partnership with the Orlando Repertory Theater ($5,000), a leader in theater for young people. BFS needs support to produce and distribute its recording of works by Paul Moravec. Total project cost is approximately $25,000.
Festival really is one of the polished gems in the crown of the Central Florida
region and certainly one of the chief ornaments of Rollins College,” according
to critically acclaimed author and classical music and fine art critic for The
Wall Street Journal, Barrymore Laurence Scherer, during his pre-festival
lecture on Saturday, February 20, 2010.
The Bach Festival Society (BFS) was founded at Rollins College in 1935 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s birth. The BFS has the distinction of being the third-oldest continuously operating Bach Festival in the United States and Central Florida’s oldest operating performing arts organization. Over the course of its history, it has served hundreds of thousands of individuals with exceptional music performances, engaged over 2,500 community members as singers in the Bach Choir.
A 2009 study by Chorus America revealed that choral singing is the most popular form of participatory art; choral singers are more civically and philanthropically active citizens; and children who sing in choruses achieve academic success and develop valuable life skills. The BFS is the only organization that consistently presents large choral masterworks and provides choral singing opportunities to citizens of all ages through its Youth Choir, Bach Choir, and Young at Heart Chorale.
In addition to performing choral masterworks, the BFS presents solo and chamber artists. Our intimate performance settings, Knowles Memorial Chapel and Tiedtke Concert Hall, allow audience members a degree of direct access to artists that is unmatched by other venues. The cumulative direct impact on individuals in the community was summed up in this typical patron statement: “You have expanded my musical world and raised it to a level of importance that I did not anticipate. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Artistic Director and Conductor John V. Sinclair has led the Bach Choir and Orchestra since Fall 1990, presenting the music of a wide variety of composers. As the 160-voice Choir has matured, its reputation for quality and excellence has spread. The Bach Choir and orchestra performed with the Orlando Ballet to present Carmina Burana as part of the grand opening events of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in 2014 and also partnered with numerous community groups to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht in 2013. The Bach Choir twice partnered with the London Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Florida International Festival in Daytona Beach in 2007 and 2009. The Society continues to seek creative opportunities to engage its Choir and Central Florida’s residents and visitors.
The Bach Festival Society is a truly unique and historically-important arts organization in Central Florida. Since 1935, the Society has presented programming celebrating the work of J.S. Bach and introducing exceptional choral repertoire to thousands of patrons each year. BFS was the first organization to present Bach’s Mass in B Minor south of the Mason Dixon line. Excerpts from Bach Festival performances were aired nationally on the radio during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The focus on quality and engagement remain a priority for the organization. In recent years, the Bach Choir has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, and tenor Andrea Bocelli. The choir and orchestra performed Carmina Burana with the Orlando Ballet during the grand opening events of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The enduring element to the longevity of the Society is the personal connection our community has with the music. Many of our choir members travel long distances to sing in the choir because it brings such camaraderie and power to their lives. Patrons too express the deep emotion they experience when attending our performances. Students are amazed to see such talented artists and learn from them.
After every performance, dozens of patrons express their thanks that a musical performance of such high-caliber is available to them in their community. It’s so important to have cultural outlets in our community—places and events where people can be transported by what great art has to offer. I truly feel the Bach Festival Society embodies the best the arts community has to offer.
The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park draws audience members from all over the State of Florida to its performances annually. In addition to Florida residents, many patrons, both nationally and internationally, plan their trips to Central Florida around the Annual Bach Festival each February.
The Bach Festival
Society of Winter Park’s goal is to bring about lasting community change by
inspiring the human spirit through great classical music, featuring powerful
choral performances, and world-renowned visiting artists.
The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park (BFS) focuses on inspiring both existing and new audience members to performances, and providing accessible and exciting educational outreach programs. The BFS presents classical music of the highest caliber and interactive educational opportunities to the residents and visitors alike. The Society does this by providing services in niche markets that are not fulfilled by other arts organizations in the area: presenting large choral masterworks, solo and chamber visiting artists, and interactive education and outreach programs. Our intimate performance settings, Knowles Memorial Chapel and Tiedtke Concert Hall, allow audience members more direct access to the artist compared to other venues in town.
The Bach Festival Society benefits society on both individual and community levels. The Society impacts thousands of individuals annually and builds their aesthetic growth, mental acuity, and spiritual awakening, while fostering deeper personal relationships, and expanded social networks. On a community level, the Bach Festival Society is a historic part of the fabric of Winter Park. Over 2,500 singers from across Central Florida have been a part of the Bach Choir during its 80 years.
The cumulative direct impact that the Society has on individuals in the community can be summed up in this statement from a patron: “You have expanded my musical world and raised it to a level of importance that I did not anticipate. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The Bach Festival Society will meet its goal of presenting classical music of the highest caliber and providing accessible and exciting education programs through the following strategies:
· Present a diverse selection of works from various international composers and world-class artists.
· Develop existing and new educational outreach initiatives that support choral singing and choral music, and increase youth and adult audience access to Artistic Director and Conductor, John V. Sinclair.
· Maintain the Young at Heart Chorale for non-auditioned singers age 55 and older and present performances to diverse adult populations, including VA hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement centers.
· Develop and present a series of lectures, videos, and discussions designed to familiarize audiences with BFS repertoire.
· Invest in new marketing initiatives to increase BFS’s subscriber base, increasing stability for the organization’s future.
· Host special meet-and-greet opportunities for audience members to interact with the world-renowned talent that the BFS brings to Central Florida.
Each element of BFS programming is designed to bring classical music to existing and new audiences in a meaningful way. By presenting diverse and powerful work, exciting and interactive educational programs for all ages, creating connections for new and experienced audience members, and providing access to world-renowned artists, BFS aims to inspire the human spirit through the power of music.
The longevity of the BFS in the Central Florida community proves that the Society has the capacity and reputation to meet the goals and complete the strategies outlined previously. Founded in 1935, BFS is the third-oldest continually operating Bach Festival in the United States. For 80 years, the Society has been providing classical music of the highest caliber to the Central Florida community.
BFS’s Executive Director Elizabeth Gwinn and Artistic Director John V. Sinclair are uniquely qualified to meet the goals set by the Society. Elizabeth Gwinn has over 21 years of arts administration experience in Central Florida. She successfully led the Society during the difficult years of the economic recession and the celebrations of the organization’s 75th and 80th anniversaries and the 25th anniversary of Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. John Sinclair. Dr. John Sinclair is very highly regarded in his field, was recently awarded a prestigious “distinguished alumni award” from his alma mater, William Jewell College and was selected to conduct the famous Berkshire Choral Festival in June 2014.
BFS completed a staff restructure in the summer of 2013 to allow the Executive and Artistic Directors more time to focus on fundraising and meeting the Strategic Plan goals. Staff members were hired to strengthen the organization in the following areas: 1) Artistic and Educational Excellence, 2) Audience Development and Marketing, and 3) Capacity Building to support fundraising and operations. BFS has had strong success in each area as evidenced by high praise from patrons, partners and the media, double-digit increases in ticket sales and subscription sales, a 14% increase in individual contributions, and increased foundation support.
With strong management and a conservative spending policy, the BFS endowment is valued at over $2.8 million. The endowment provides financial stability, recurring operating income, and some protection from the unforeseen future challenges. The BFS Board also established a cash reserve to provide 100% of staff salary, benefits, taxes, and insurance for 90 days and maintain required insurance policies for the year in case of emergency.
The BFS has historically strong partnerships in the community beginning with Rollins College and the all-volunteer Bach Choir. Rollins provides valuable in-kind office, rehearsal and performance space to the Society (valued at over $93,000 annually) and direct connections to visiting scholars and artists. The Society has developed other key partnerships including the The Orlando Repertory Theater, Winter Park Institute, Enzian Theater, Holocaust Memorial Education and Resource Center, Negro Spiritual Scholarship Fund, A Gift For Music, Orange County Public Schools, Winter Park Chamber, and the Honorary German Consul in Orlando among others.
The BFS is vigilant about tracking progress throughout
each season to maintain a holistic view of how the Society is doing, and where it
needs to focus for growth to occur.
Quantitatively, ticket goals are set for each performance unit, both for subscribers and single ticket purchases. These sales numbers are reviewed weekly, and tactics are adjusted accordingly to keep the Society on track to meet these goals. Fundraising goals are set for the annual fund campaigns, sponsorships and foundation grants. The Executive Director and Development Consultant meet quarterly to review progress and address areas of concern. BFS also tracks the number of first-time attendees to BFS, the number of subscribers, and the number of renewing subscribers each year. BFS also conducts regular economic impact surveys which outline the impact the organization has on the local economy.
Qualitatively, the BFS solicits audience feedback electronically at least twice per year and hosts an occasional focus group to review key issues. Additionally, the staff reaches out to audience members individually to solicit feedback from key patrons and constituents throughout the season. BFS seeks feedback from participants in its Share the Music outreach program, encourages critical reviews by as many media sources as possible, and solicits feedback from the Choir through an annual Choir survey.
The Patron Manager CRM database system tracks and manages both the quantitative and qualitative data collected throughout the season.
The Bach Festival Society’s mission is to inspire the
human spirit through great classical music, featuring powerful choral
performances, and world-renowned visiting artists. The Society has a documented
track record of delivering unique and exceptional performances to the Central
Florida community throughout its history and has annual goals and objectives
that focus on key priorities. The Society is in the 3rd year of its three-year
With Voice and Vision sustainability initiative designed to strengthen the
Society’s three strategic priority areas: 1) Artistic and Educational Excellence,
2) Audience Development, and 3) Capacity Building to strengthen the skills of
the staff and Board to meet program, fundraising, and audience development
The Society has had strong success in meeting annual goals in support of the three priority areas.
For Artistic and Educational Excellence, the Society celebrated its 80th anniversary season with exceptional programming (evidenced by reviews, patron feedback, and community support). It commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec and author Terry Teachout to create a work celebrating Conductor Dr. John V. Sinclair. The Society has expanded programming to include intimate performances with The Alfond Inn, a “Bach and Beer” partnership with local restaurant Cask and Larder. The Society’s Carmina Burana partnership with the Orlando Ballet was an artistic coup and was part of the grant opening events at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
To support Audience Development, BFS launched a new website which includes more information of BFS repertoire and artists, added programming on our season to attract first-time attendees--the expanded Christmas performances alone introduced nearly 1,000 new attendees to the Bach Festival. Communication strategies designed to deepen the engagement of one-time ticket buyers through discount subscriptions and special offers have proven successful and concerts are regularly sold-out or near capacity.
BFS recognized it needed to add Capacity to meet these goals and hired a Fundraising Consultant to aide in developing a professional fundraising effort. BFS instituted a new ticketing/CRM database to track patron and donor activity, and hired staff to support the overall goals of the organization. BFS’s Board of Trustees has expanded from 8 members to 12 with skills and resources to meet our goals.
Fundraising from individuals has increased by 14% over the past three years. Ticket sales are up 53% over the past three years and the quality of programming has never been stronger.
BFS is now focused on developing a new Strategic Plan to get consensus on priorities for the near future. With the expanded board, the Executive Director needs to spend more time engaging these volunteers, managing community partnerships and engaging community leaders.
The Annual Bach Festival is the centerpiece of the BFS’s yearly programming. Presented each February, the Festival consists of 10–12 events, featuring the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra and includes world-class lecturers, soloists, and ensembles. While the music of J.S. Bach is highlighted the Annual Festival also includes the works of other great classical composers, performed in intimate environments that resemble the original settings for which the music was written.
In 2016, the Bach Festival Society continued the momentum generated the previous year during the organization's very successful 80th Anniversary, In 2015, ticket sales increased by 24% and in 2016, ticket sales increased a further 3% resulting in nearly full-capacity for our season of programming.
Surveys taken each year during the Festival show a continued growth in economic impact on the community, as well as high satisfaction with the artistic product of the Festival.
“Every concert is a wonderful experience. We enjoy the Bach Festival immensely and tell everyone what a treasure we have in our community. Every concert is different and special in its own way. The conductor (John Sinclair), the musicians and the choir are extraordinary. It is apparent that all the participants enjoy being a part of the presentation. The work that they put in is immense.”--Bach Festival Patron
The goal of the Choral Masterworks Series is to present choral masterpieces belonging to all eras of classical music, from traditional to contemporary. It is led by John V. Sinclair and features the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra in Knowles Memorial Chapel. Many choir members have college degrees in music, advanced musical training, or serve as music educators in Central Florida. Orchestra members are professionals from across the region. Many teach privately and at colleges and universities, in addition to their professional engagements.
Patron feedback; ticket sales; instrumentalist, soloist, and choir feedback.
Gary Fears, from Lakeland, Florida, came up to me, as I was exiting the chapel, post-concert, and with moist eyes, he stated, "I have to tell you, during the last piece, I closely remembered all of my dead family and friends, and for the first time in my life, I came into a full peace, with their passing, something of which I had never before experienced. I am still chilled with this. Thank you."
Dr. Sinclair, thank you again, for validating the need in our lives for quality music and the mastering, thereof.
Both Carol and I continue to be honored and humbled to sing for you and make music with you. Your choices of music continues to inspire. Thank you for what you do.
The Visiting Artists Series presents internationally renowned solo artists and chamber ensembles. The Bach Festival has had the opportunity to feature several prestigious engagements through this series, including performances by Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Orchestra, Chanticleer, Brooklyn Rider, pianists Andre Watts and Emmanuel Ax, the Juilliard String Quartet, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
The intimate space of Tiedtke Concert Hall offers patrons the rare opportunity to experience the performances in an up-close and personal setting.
In the 2015–2016 Season, 1,506 tickets were purchased by patrons over four concerts.
Patron feedback, ticket sales, and artist feedback.
The mission of the BFS’s educational programs is to
motivate and empower students through direct participation with the arts.
· The Society is developing existing and new educational outreach initiatives that support choral singing and choral music. This programming includes public high school choral workshops, a public high school choral festival, high school choral conducting workshops, a series of "community sings," and more.
· The BFS launched its Share the Music program in 2010 with the goal to bring its world-class guest artists to public school students in our community who would not otherwise have the opportunity to hear artists of this caliber. Over the past several years, the Society has partnered with a variety of community organizations and schools to bring these world-class artists to music students. Partners include A Gift For Music, and Orange County Public Schools, Florida Alliance for Arts Education and others. Artists include: the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, the Miro Quartet, violinist Lara St. John, composer Morten Lauridsen, the Parker Quartet, and chamber ensemble Red Priest among others.
· FreshStARTs—brings educational and artistic experiences through live performances in Orange and Seminole County public schools. Teachers choose from a selection of ten programs that supplement their traditional classroom curriculum.
· The Bach Festival Society has had a long-running Youth Choir serving students ages 9–17. Through performance-based music education, the choir enriches the lives of children and strengthens citizenship while contributing lasting value to the community. The Youth Choir is on hiatus in 2016–17 due to a change in direction.
In total, the BFS's educational programs reach over 14,000 students annually.
"I was so impressed with the interaction between the performers and our students. They really held the students’ attention and sparked their interest in the performing arts. I heard students talking about the performance for days afterwards. We were indeed fortunate to have been included in this presentation. Thank you, Brooklyn Rider!" --Marie Cashion, Assistant Principal, Three Points ES
Each year the Bach Festival Choir and Brass reach over 11,000 people by providing free community concerts at the Old Fashioned 4th of July celebration and Christmas in the Park in Winter Park’s Central Park. The Christmas in the Park program is a unique community event and in December 2012 was broadcast by WMFE FM to over 20,000 households in Central Florida.
The BFS's Young at Heart Chorale is a group of Seniors who love to sing, specializing in favorite standards and show tunes. This group maintains a strong sense of camaraderie and gives free performances throughout the region.
John V. Sinclair, DMA, Artistic Director & Conductor, celebrated his 25th season as conductor of the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra in 2015. He is the longest serving conductor in the organization’s history. Dr. Sinclair is responsible for overseeing all artistic programming including selecting repertoire and visiting vocal and instrumental and soloists. Dr. Sinclair conducts all choral and orchestral rehearsals and performances. An outstanding music educator and one of Central Florida’s most visible musicians, Dr. Sinclair conducts the Walt Disney World Candlelight Processional at EPCOT, directs the Moravian Music Festivals, and participates in recording projects for Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Corporation. Dr. Sinclair has made more than 500 appearances as conductor, clinician, and lecturer throughout the United States and overseas, including conducting a principal mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. Dr. Sinclair is Director of Music at Rollins College Department of Music and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri.
The BFS has built relationships with a number of local and regional cultural, business, and media partners to meet its mission. Current and/or recent partners, listed in alphabetical order, include:
A Gift for Music
City of Winter Park
Hannibal Square Heritage Center
London Symphony Orchestra
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
United Arts of Central Florida
University of Central Florida
Winter Park Chamber of Commerce
Winter Park Historical Association
Winter Park Institute
The BFS Board of Trustees, Executive Director, and
Artistic Director are diligent in their development of the annual budget and
closely monitor monthly expenses and revenues and identify any trends that must
be anticipated and addressed. In 2010, the BFS Board of Trustees convened a
Strategic Planning Committee and worked with a consultant to develop and approve
a Strategic Plan. The plan was adopted in November 2011, but it became clear
that the staff structure wasn’t adequate to meet the plan goals. In 2013, the
Society revised its staff structure and hired new staff members to manage
Strategic Plan priorities.
The BFS Board and staff are always looking for community changes that will affect programming, fundraising and outreach. The Central Florida community has changed significantly over the past decade. The addition of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center has raised the profile of the arts in Central Florida.
BFS will continue to focus on growing its fundraising ability and increasing earned income. It has had success increasing private support through its annual fundraising campaigns, choir contributions, individual giving, and contributions to the established endowment fund to support general operations. As a major arts organization, the BFS receives annual operating support from United Arts of Central Florida. Individual contributions to the United Arts campaign have grown over the past two years, owing in part to the enhanced efforts of board and staff solicitation. The BFS has received competitive grants from Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs Cultural Tourism program, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation, the Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation, the Galloway Foundation, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, and many more. The BFS will continue to seek this important funding.
The BFS's endowment provides the organization with financial stability and some protection from the dangers of unknown future difficulties. In addition, the BFS Board of Trustees established a 90-day cash reserve to be used in the event unexpected circumstances significantly interfered with business operations. This reserve will provide 100% of staff salary, benefits, taxes, and insurance for 90 days and maintain required insurance policies for the year.
The BFS is especially proud to have its all-volunteer Bach Festival Choir that donates over 27,000 aggregate hours annually to the organization.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
The BFS has a temporarily-restricted endowment valued at $2,957,550 (as of 3/31/2016) which is not recognized by CFF because it is not classified as permanently restricted. The BFS Board of Trustees established an Endowment in 2000 with the primary objective to provide resources to further the Society’s purpose both currently and in the future. In 2009, the BFS Board of Trustees adopted a Statement of Endowment Policy which establishes the policies and procedures governing the receipt, investment, use and distribution of Endowment gifts, grants and bequests made to the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Inc. and its legal successors. The Policy may be changed only by a super-majority (80%) vote of the Board of Trustees.
Central Florida Foundation 800 N Magnolia AvenueSuite 1200 Orlando, FL 32803 p. 407.872.3050 f. 407.425.2990