“The major gossip columnists were more concerned with protecting the industry than with gunning down sinners.” Gloria Swanson
As I mentioned earlier this month, for the first time in YEARS, I don’t have concerts or gigs pending and have had time to be around the house much more, so we decided to do some home improvements. The basement re-do is finished and the KITCHEN re-do has begun. The household is in flux, but the upside is we’ve been organizing as we go. As we’ve organized, I’ve found things I had forgotten about, including a file of letters from a former singer. Last week, I shared portions of the first letter I received from Edie*.
For the month of February, I’ve decided to share portions of these letters and others, as well as some perspectives with you. Hindsight is always 20/20 and with time and age, things become clearer. In a way, these letters bring back a period in my life I had forgotten.
As I read through the letters with a Choral Ethics perspective, they read as classic Choral Ethics dilemmas. While I don’t think I’ve consciously let this situation of my own color my suggestions to ChoralNetters with similar dilemmas, I’m sure they have.
That January, I submitted my report for the six months I had been music director the previous year. And I included a letter to the Pastor describing the letters I had been receiving from Edie. I had been asked to speak with Joanne*, the new choir director, which I did. After speaking with her, I understood their frustrations because Joanne did not seem very well trained or knowledgeable about church choirs. I was kind when I spoke with Joanne, sharing information about choir members and the congregation but don’t think she was receptive. And shared my observations with the Pastor.
Today I share a portion of a letter from the Chair of the Choir Director Search Committee, Carl*. All my correspondents were furious (with each other) and thought I could do something, what, I have no idea. I must have written to Carl because he mentions my letter; I have no memory of doing so.
Carl began his letter saying he was happy to hear from me but hadn’t known any of this was happening until he got to choir practice in mid-January:
“I wasn’t aware of this whole ugly situation until we were supposed to have choir practice on January 16. I say “supposed to” because it ended abruptly when Dotty concluded her shouting tirade with, “I quit!” I might add that through this, Joanne remained calm and self controlled.”
Carl defended how they went about finding a new choir director and believed they deserved what they got with Joanne because they weren’t a very big congregation and had been lucky with me. He also describes how Dotty had temper tantrums before several worship services and how several choir members, especially Edie, had it out for Joanne. He tells me the Pastor had tried to pay a call on Edie and her husband but wasn’t allowed in. He ends with this:
“I’m pondering as to who might have made the “hysterical phone calls.” Right now I guess we’re all candidates, except for me of course.”
I had regularly been getting phone calls from Dotty* (the organist), several choir members, and Edie herself. Most of these calls were late at night and my callers were upset. They must have gotten home from a church meeting or rehearsal and decided to call me. I remember one choir member, Kath*, told me she wanted me to know what was happening to the quality program I had worked so hard to build. She also was threatening to leave the choir and the church.
After reading through Carl’s letter several times, as well as Edie’s, my memory is jogged about a few things. I believe I wrote to several choir members and Dotty regularly, as they did to me. None of their cards and letters were in my files, probably because they were ordinary, normal letters exchanged between friends. I believe I saved these particular letters because they had to do with my former job, and I was worried I would need proof, or something. I can also tell you quite confidently, I cannot remember Edie AT ALL. I can picture others quite clearly, but not her. That should tell you something.
Next week, I’ll wrap up this trip down Memory Lane and share portions of other letters from Edie. And I will tell you, from a Choral Ethics perspective, what I SHOULD have done.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/