“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.” Henry Rollins
Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful summer and are refreshed and ready to go. I also hope you enjoyed the Choral Potpourri/Choral Ethics repeats here on ChoralNet for the last two months. I am ready and raring to get writing new blogs again, with plenty of new topics.
To begin the academic year, I’d like to share two stories with you I’ve been thinking about almost all summer. One of them is my own story, something that happened during my vacation. And one is a story shared by ChoralNetter, Tabitha,* who could NOT believe a sticky and silly situation that happened to her.
Tabitha tells me the situation was TOTALLY preventable and I agree. She attends a week long professional development retreat once a year in late June. It is organized and sponsored by the music organization of the Protestant denomination she serves. It is held at a small religious liberal arts college in a lovely part of the country. She’s been attending for about ten years.
The committee which organizes the retreat has been doing so for twenty years and this year, were replaced by a new committee. The old committee volunteered to help the new committee this first year but the new committee declined their help. Uh-oh.
This professional development retreat focuses on working and singing with colleagues from around the country as well as fine organists and several prominent choral directors within the denomination. They work on music which can be challenging but not always. Music is included in the price of the retreat, along with room and board. This year, they had a bigger name choral director. They were to work on two large choral works Tabitha had always wanted to sing. It was going to be fun.
Tabitha tells me, for the most part, the new organizing committee did a fantastic job. The organists they hired to play the services were outstanding. The choral director was a true artist and she learned much from him. Even the food was better! What was the problem? They did NOT have enough scores for attendees and then mishandled the situation while waiting for the rest of the scores.
Tabitha tells me boxes of music were not opened until the evening before the attendees were scheduled to arrive, when music folders were to be put together. For some reason, whoever was in charge of the order didn’t think it was important to check and see all the music was received. Shipment order said ten copies of each score were backordered and would not arrive until two weeks AFTER the retreat. They scrambled around and ordered enough copies from the publisher. Those would not be delivered until two to three days into the retreat.
What to do? Those missing their scores were told to share with their neighbor in rehearsal. That would work except many of those “neighbors” didn’t want to! By ordering the music directly from the publisher, they COULD have asked if they could make enough copies so they could have some sort of rehearsal until the rest of the scores came. People were nasty about it for two days. Even when the rest of the music came, there were still hard feelings and Tabitha was disappointed with many of her fellow attendees. Seems like having enough music for everyone should have been a “no-brainer,” but guess not.
My family vacations in an area with a yearly music festival. The area is a popular vacation spot as well. We often see some of the performers around town, at local restaurants and attractions. We know a few of the regulars but are always able to spot some of the new folks.
One of our first nights in town, we had an early dinner at a favorite ethnic food place. I recognized one of the employees of the music fest, who was with two young women. She was taking them to dinner and it was not going well. The wait staff was asked the same questions over and over again and the two young women were not happy with his answers. They left, with the music fest employee looking miserable. Several days later, we encountered the same employee with the same two young women at a different restaurant. The employee looked beaten down but the two young women were smirking. It was my understanding the young women were special guests of the music fest. I’ve been worried about the employee since I saw the way she was treated. What is wrong with those young women?
My guess is the two young women felt entitled to treat folks any way they want because they have been allowed to. Some very talented musicians can be very obnoxious people, but only if the rest of us tolerate it. Don’t tolerate it.