“I lead a very conventional life. I don’t lead a writer’s life. And I think that can be a source of suspicion and irritation to some people.” Joan Didion
Hi ChoralNetters, and Happy New Year. I hope you have begun an exciting and productive time and that 2023 is your best year ever. It is time to move on and renew our choral commitments but first, let’s take care of some old 2022 business. I have SIX THINGS that irritated me in 2022 that I’d like to share with you.
SIX: Clickbait titles for articles dealing with choral issues. Elsewhere on the internet it might be trendy to see posts entitled “Five Must Haves for Your Spring Wardrobe” but could we try to sound more professional with choral subjects? And anything with more than one exclamation point turns me off. I make it a point to NOT read those on general principles. Maybe I’ve missed some insightful articles, but I think not!!!!!
FIVE: Blatant self-promotion. These folks don’t even attempt to disguise or dress up what they are doing. Yes, they have all the answers, and YOU CAN TOO if you subscribe to their YouTube channel, take their Zoom course, or hire them to be your clinician. No thank you, I see what you’re doing there.
FOUR: The word “curated.” Could we retire this tired and over used word unless we’re putting together an art show, gathering ancient artifacts for a museum, or developing a performing artist’s (or performing arts organization) retrospective? You are researching music selections for a concert, then PROGRAMMING a concert, not “curating a concert!”
THREE: Sexism in classical music. It’s STILL going on and it is NOT “old news.” Someone recently INSISTED to me it’s old news, it’s over and told me to move on. Then he told me sexism in classical music isn’t a “thing” any longer and I should just stop talking about it. Nope, gonna KEEP talking about it until it is no longer an issue. Let’s face it, it’s gonna take a minute for THAT to happen especially when a woman is told to keep her mouth shut about sexism by a man.
TWO: Women being awful to other women. I suppose this is Part Two of my Number Three; women can be awful to one another and is another type of sexism in classical music. Instead of lifting other women up, some women drag them down on purpose. Why? Lots of reasons including that’s how they were treated early in their career. There are many delightful exceptions, including world-class women conductors mentoring young women conductors. But I’ve been contacted by three different women conductors since September dealing with vicious women who have power over them. One young conductor developed mental health issues because of her treatment; there’s absolutely no reason for that. Can we just we stop?
ONE: Pretension and smugness about music. When it comes to anything in the classical music world, there are many teachers, performers, composers, and listeners who believe they know best. When COVID restrictions were in place, Zoom courses taught by these type of folks became a sort of cottage industry and many are still at it. These people will tell you your taste in music is all wrong, you have listened to the wrong performers with the wrong interpretations, have studied with the wrong teachers and have the wrong idea on how to listen properly. They are smug and condescending and have no problem dismissing your talent and taste, telling you they are pure in their views about music while calling your views misguided, and worse. Some of these people have developed a sort of cult following. You are lucky if you only have to deal with their acolytes occasionally at a cocktail party and wildly UNLUCKY if you must deal with them in any other way. I am so over it!
There were also many things I liked and found hopeful for our Choral Profession and will share those later this month. I encourage you to share things that irritated YOU in 2022 in the comments below.
Happy New Year, ChoralNet!