A personal note from the Artistic Director, about attendance, learning music and our goals as a chorus:


What follows may seem like a lot of rules, but they are there to promote clarity of expectations, fairness, and most especially, to support us in reaching our musical and expressive goals. Although we do spend time in rehearsals learning notes, rhythms and text, that is not the reason we rehearse together. After all, there are many ways to learn notes—many more convenient ways than coming to San Francisco on Tuesday nights! We have smart and conscientious singers—it is assumed that everyone will know all the notes, rhythms and texts far in advance of the concert.

Rather, we rehearse together in order to present a musically, emotionally and technically unified, refined and expressive performance. It is as impossible to practice for this alone as it is to practice being the third baseman alone. Bach, Victoria, Vivaldi, and Brahms have given us an awe-inspiring responsibility: to love, cherish and communicate their worlds, and for this we must truly work together. Although there are many good, worthy, even laudable reasons to miss rehearsal, a singer is either there, or not. When it comes to striving for a meaningful, expressive performance, all that matters is whether you were there, engaged and practicing with the team. This is why all absences count toward the Performance Check requirement, regardless of the circumstances.

We also recognize that real life for our multi-tasking singers means that, regrettably but understandably, almost everyone is going to miss an occasional rehearsal. By using Performance Checks, we can balance and respect the needs of responsible adults with our commitment to the highest artistic goals for the music, the organization, and our audience.

—MS


  1. Singers are expected to attend all rehearsals and concerts during a quarter. It is not sufficient to participate in only one of a pair of concerts.
  2. Each singer is asked to complete a commitment form listing all planned absences at the beginning of the September and January sets each year.
  3. If a singer must miss a rehearsal that was not accounted for on his/her commitment form, s/he should email attendance@sfbach.org (which goes only to the Attendance Coordinator and Artistic Director), preferably before the rehearsal, or if that is not possible, as soon as possible afterward.
  4. A singer who cannot attend a mandatory rehearsal may be excused from the performance.
  5. Lateness: Since the warm-up is an integral part of our vocal development and our ensemble sound, the rehearsal is considered to begin directly at 7 PM or whenever is the scheduled starting time, not when warmup is over. If you are not in your seat at the starting time, you are late. If ongoing personal or professional obligations make it impossible to arrive on time, speak with the Attendance Coordinator and the Artistic Director at the beginning of the concert set. Three “lates” will be regarded as one absence.
  6. If a singer has missed more than 20% of the rehearsals for a set, s/he is required to have a Performance Check with the Artistic Director, regardless of the reasons for the absences. The Attendance Coordinator will notify singers who are required to have a Performance Check. Performance Check dates and times can be found on the master schedule.
  7. Performance Checks will be conducted with singers one-on-a-part, performing portions of the work(s) under preparation. The Artistic Director will determine whether each singer is adequately prepared to sing the concert.
  8. Signing in at rehearsals and concerts: It is the singer’s responsibility to sign in personally at every rehearsal and concert. Do not ask another to do it for you, or attempt to sign in retroactively. At the start of each rehearsal, the Attendance Coordinator will collect the sign-in sheets and record any late arrivers. If you do not sign in, and you are not recorded as late by the Attendance Coordinator, you are marked absent for that rehearsal.
  9. Illness: This is up to the each singer’s discretion, but as a guide: if a singer is well enough to be up and about during the day and is not contagious s/he should usually attend rehearsal, sit on the stage, and take notes.
  10. Acquiring vital information from missed rehearsals: Section leaders will take careful notes on all aspects of a rehearsal including changes in voicing, markings, dynamics, cut offs, pronunciations, tone color, etc., as well as additions and changes in dates and times of rehearsals. It is each singer’s responsibility to obtain all of these notes from his/her section leader, write them into his/her music, and learn the new material prior to the start of the next rehearsal.