“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander the Great
Many of you read the title of today’s Blog and understood exactly what I was writing about. You might know someone who is a member of a chorus with a leader who can do “no wrong” or you might be That Leader, who is secretly delighted by his or her “sainthood” or you might be an observer. In any event, YOU KNOW what I mean.
Tony* is a very good bass with a very unusual voice and much in demand in his area’s community choruses. He got back to singing right after his youngest entered high school and has been active for about ten years. He joined a choir which sings a certain variety of choral music, then about five years ago, he joined a larger group, touted as “the best” in the area. He’s convinced the only reason they are “the best” is because they all keep saying it over and over and over again. And they all “worship” their director.
That Director is a nice guy, a decent musician but nothing special, according to Tony. Tony likes the music That Director programs but has a better time and feels more musically challenged by his first choir. If given a choice, he’d choose the first choir because he’s respected and is SHOWN respect. And there’s no game playing. Not so with the larger group.
Tony usually gets all the bass solos in the larger chorus. Yes, he does audition for them but it’s almost like they’re going through the motions. And there are sometimes vocal solos when That Director doesn’t even TRY to hold auditions; his favorites get them. Tony tells me for their last concert, the Chosen Soloist got sick several weeks before the concert and That Director had to give it to another singer, someone who auditions but never gets anything. It’s Tony’s opinion she did a BETTER JOB than the Chosen Soloist.
The reason Tony contacted me was two-fold; he needed to vent AND That Director is retiring. The larger chorus went through a year-long search for a replacement but it’s Tony’s opinion, the New Guy won’t work out because most of the singers worship That Director. Tony hasn’t decided what he will do but he WILL give the New Guy a chance.
Tony explained what happened before. That Director tried to “retire” a few years ago, but some of his most fervent followers BEGGED him to come back, which he did. There was a new director for the group, but That Director was “convinced” to start a new variation of the old chorus, which conflicted with the original chorus. The original chorus folded within a year and That Director flourished with his new group. It was a “shame” but no blame was ever heaped upon anyone but That Director should have stayed retired and left the original chorus alone. Tony is afraid the same thing will happen only this time That Director’s wife wants to move to Florida. He wonders if His Followers will realize asking him to come back could cause a heap of trouble!
I told Tony I’ve seen and heard many similar situations. Directors like That Director, whether they realize it or not, have created a cult. Their singers have been led to believe NO ONE ELSE can lead their chorus or even knows how to LEAD a chorus. It may make them feel good and feed their ego, but it isn’t healthy. My advice to Tony is to support the New Guy and hope That Director and his wife get to Florida before he can be convinced to do otherwise. It’s really a shame!