In the comments of my post on this topic from last week, there is a nice comment from reader Liz Garnet who noted that singers sing better when they are "jolted out of autopilot", and that was a comment that stuck with me as I prepared for rehearsal on Monday.
Immediately the sound improved with the choir, and there was a renewed energy and focus that wasn't there last week, and much was accomplished. The funny thing is - this is a seating plan that I used in some form for the first two years that I conducted this choir.
For a while, I had so few tenors in my choir (a challenge I'm certain all choral conductors have had) that I had the tenors sit dead centre front row, with the basses behind them, and then sops on the left, alto on the right in two rows each. Once the tenor section grew to balanced numbers, I was able to have two rows of each section, going from left to right(S-A-T-B), and this is where I've been for the last two years. Now I'm back to two rows, front row all women, back row all men, basses behind sopranos, tenors behind altos. My main reason for doing this is that I do not have any "front row" type tenors in the choir right now, and having them buffered a bit by my altos helps that situation a lot.
I have experimented with mixed formation a bit in the past - although never for a concert yet, just for rehearsals. It always seems to go well in rehearsals for a limited time, then once we get into our performance venue, it never quite gels. Something I think we can work on in the coming years.
Perhaps in two years, when this feels stale again - a new seating plan will emerge - and out of autopilot we shall go!