“I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.” Robert Browning
I was finally able to see my dear friend, Denise, * in person a few weeks ago. I’ve written about her before but can’t remember what I’ve used as her usual Pseudonym. Suffice it to say, I HAVE written about her. We’ve known each other forever and have much of the same opinions on Choral Behavior—in fact, she was the person to suggest “Choral Ethics” as the term for what I’m writing about here on ChoralNet. Anyway, I saw her, and we talked about a LOT of things, including her own bad behavior. Denise confessed about something she did and wanted “absolution” for what she perceived to be an example of not great behavior.
Denise is the only woman conductor in her suburban community with five different community choruses. Her chorus is a bit unique, singing a very specific kind of music, while the other groups concentrate on large choral works and Broadway Musical medleys. There is nothing wrong with large choral works or Broadway Musical medleys, but Denise’s group sings another type of repertoire, again, nothing wrong with that. Many members of local choral organizations, especially the women, never miss a chance to belittle and badmouth the other choruses in their area. Denise’s group is not huge but often is belittled for having so few members, as if having LOTS of singers somehow makes you a better chorus. I have a similar situation with my chamber choir, so I totally get what she’s talking about.
Earlier in the summer, Denise ran into a member of one of the larger choruses. This particular chorus styles itself on being the best and premiere chorus in their community. Is it really that good? Denise tells me it’s better than average but not that special, except in their members’ minds.
With masks on, it’s difficult to recognize people, or so Denise thought, when she ran into this singer from another chorus. Denise knew this person sang with that chorus because she recognized her voice and she always is very vocal about her membership in that chorus and how great the chorus and their director is and blah, blah, blah. And when Denise said hello to this person and asked how her chorus was doing with the Pandemic, this held true to form.
Denise mentioned the singing masks she found and told her she would share the information about them with her chorus if she would like. This person told her she would prefer Denise’s director contact her director. Denise mentioned SHE was the director of her group, mentioned the name of her group and received a blank stare in response. Denise repeated the name of her chorus and then said they had the best voices in the area. Which prompted a horrified look of disbelief with what Denise said. Her next comment was yes, she DID finally remember who Denise was and smugly said she has heard her group. But before this person could say another thing, Denise said she has also heard HER group, turned and walked away. Not one of her finest moments, in her opinion, but she did it.
Denise told me she has had enough of trash talking from other choral organizations in her community. After getting through most of the Pandemic, Denise has decided to try to foster good feelings, good will and comradery with the other groups. Sharing information about singing masks with that person from another choral organization was part of her plan to foster comradery. And when the snarky, catty stuff started to ooze from that person, Denise tried to shut her down. She realized she SHOULD have just walked away and not end with that zinger, but she couldn’t help herself. What did I think?
I think we ALL had hoped things would have changed because of our world situation. That we all would rally ‘round and be kind to one another. We hoped the Pandemic would have caused the “leopard to change its spots” but clearly, that doesn’t seem to be the case in this situation. If Denise has had “enough” of belittling behavior from others, what does that mean? I told her not to be too hard on herself, and I certainly understand why she said and did, what she said and did. The fact she is worried about HER OWN behavior is a good sign. It is time to move on but always take the high road from now on.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page but am not able to today. Hope to see you next week! ~MLGA