“A concert is always like a feast day
to me.” James Taylor
Our spring concert is this coming Sunday. It’s been a wild and wooly rehearsal cycle this spring, with new and unexpected developments nearly every week.
On the morning of our first rehearsal in March, we learned our concert venue had just been sold, leaving us to scramble to find a new one. We found another new and wonderful venue very quickly–it will be fine. A new tenor decided he didn’t have time to practice, so he quit. He would have been a good addition and with any luck, he’ll be able to sing with us another time. I fired a new bass because he couldn’t (wouldn’t) follow directions for anything, including dropping off and returning his music. A member’s spouse fractured his spine which meant she had to attend to him for a few weeks. He’s better and she’s now at rehearsals but this hasn’t been easy for her or for us since we all care about both of them. Another member who has been with me the longest, almost from the very beginning of my chamber choir, told me she was moving to another state several weeks before our concert. She made arrangements to come to the last rehearsal and concert but it’s still a bit sad. We canceled a recent rehearsal due to half of my chamber choir not being able to come because of illness or an unexpected event, in addition to bad (Midwestern) weather. There were a few other incidents, not big or important but combined with everything else, a smidge more irritating than usual. What a concert cycle!
This will be a wonderful concert, musically, despite our weekly woes this spring. I try not to overshare with the choir, but I thought since many of these woes directly impacted the choir, I would. We’ll be fine and our concert will be more than fine, it’s just taken more work than usual. We joked, we laughed and we figured out how to overcome whatever was thrown at us each week. I also think it’s brought us closer, by my sharing, and more on the same page for the ensemble. Plus, it’s not easy to brush aside the reason for a change of concert venue!
Mason* has had a couple years like my one concert cycle; something happened almost each and every rehearsal for four concerts over two years. He felt at times his community chorus was cursed and so did the chorus! Venue issues, rehearsal space politics, music orders, concert programs, a flooded basement with ruined files of music, a soprano flu outbreak and tornados—wow, it sounded awful!
When Mason contacted me earlier this spring, he didn’t want advice. He wanted to share how he overcame adversity. I had already solved my venue problem and told him about telling my choir the details. He said that was what he wanted to share; how he decided not to keep information from his chorus.
Mason has been involved in several organizations where no one knew anything because the modus operandi was “never let them see you sweat.” The audience should never be aware of any adversities, of course, but the Board and the chorus should know what was going on, and they didn’t. As a result, there were misunderstandings, hurt feelings and gossip abounding, nothing contributing to make a harmonious atmosphere of making music when things went ka-flooey.
He arrived at his present community chorus fully expecting to be told not to share anything with the chorus when things went wrong. But when that first problem arose two years ago, his Board president gave him a paragraph statement to be read during chorus announcements. It was explained to him, when folks don’t know what’s happening, they imagine or assume things, often worse than the truth. The simple, plain truth is Mason’s organization’s policy. And it works.
Mason tells me his concert tomorrow evening will be GREAT, despite that soprano flu outbreak in April. And my concert on Sunday will also be great despite the flooded streets preventing that one rehearsal. And THANK YOU, Mason, for great advice!