Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thoughts On Complaints Choir Completion

(this will probably be the very last post at this blog's URL. We are currently moving things. Blogging will resume shortly on the Voices of Washington homepage:

Well, whatever it is. Phase 1 is now complete. Six months after reconstituting the choir, after the roster of the chorus being a revolving door with three times as many singers asked, cajoled and arm-twisted into occasionally showing up as ever show up week to week, and literally eight times that many being continually arm-twisted to show up to no avail. We have now completed our first project.

I make no bones about its relative lack of quality. Musically, nobody in their right mind could describe this as being in any way an accomplishment to brag about. The intonation problems are painful (to me at least), there was never enough time to properly teach the chorus their parts, and nearly all the instrumentalists we contacted to help us either never responded or cancelled at the last minute (cellist Stephanie Bier being a SHINING exception). All this would have been the case had we waited another three months to try to make it musically better. As so often happens with Murphy's Law: what can go wrong will go wrong. And in this case, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. We had different singers there virtually every time we rehearsed it, the recording equipment was unreliable to the point that it's amazing we even have a recording, every take took three times as long to set up as we hoped, and about five times as long to edit. But we were in every way unbowed, and all the setbacks made us more determined than ever to complete it. There are only two things that matter about this video: it's funny, and it shows that we can complete a project. I think we've succeeded admirably on both fronts.

Let there be no doubt, this long and strange trip of ours has been frustrating to the point of maddening. I wish there were more things I could point to in order to illustrate exactly what I did to make Voices of Washington encounter so many setbacks since the very moment I took over, because at least then there would have been lots of things to learn from. But the truth is that there aren't all that many. Nothing could have prevented all the sudden resignations of friends from the board who said they had the time to help with the administration and then didn't. Nothing can prevent a singer who has too much other stuff in their lives to do from not showing up. Nothing could have prevented people who didn't like the direction in which we were going from leaving us without turning the chorus into a direction we didn't want to go. As Hyman Roth would say, "This is the business we've chosen." And for every wonderful thing you discover about life along the way, there are very ugly truths to be learned too. In the end, it makes for a much more meaningful product. Bad as things have been, they could have been still much worse. In almost everything we did, we had to minimize our setbacks, and a shooting that took three months from inception to completion could easily have taken far longer with the exact same quality of product. I think we're ultimately a much stronger organization for the trials we've undergone. And after last week's rehearsal, I'm much more convinced than ever that we are growing into a blindingly bright future. If we can produce this after everything that's happened, nothing can stop us now. I'm damn proud of this project, and I'm damn proud of everybody who worked on it. And it's only the beginning. DC is about to get a lot more interesting.

1 comment: