Tuesday, July 22, 2008

political choral conducting

I was at a choir rehearsal recently, led by a guest conductor.
At some point he mentioned he had recently been conducting some "nice young Baptists," but his tone was...strange. I couldn't put my finger on it. I was waiting for him to insert a comment about Baptists being nice (or not.) But regardless of the fact that I can't adequately describe what it was in his tone or precise wording that made me anticipate this, I didn't have to, because sure enough, a couple girls behind me picked up on this "tone," and inserted that sort of comment.
A few minutes later, (the piece we were singing had something to do with the tragedy of war,) he started going off about how he had a choir member in another choir who had been shipped off to Iraq, blah blah blah, and how terrible it was; making no secret of his political opinions in the matter. In fact, he closed his soliloquy by saying, "well, I mean, maybe that's just my opinion."
Regardless of MY personal opinion, I felt so unwelcome by this supposedly "professional" person who makes no secret of his opinion in political or religious things.
(I ended up leaving, as a result partly of just feeling unwelcome, as well as not liking the piece we were singing, and having a lot to do at home.)
But seriously, I would NEVER even reference anything remotely political while conducting my choir. In fact, I have on occasion tried to "clear the air" after someone else unnecessarily brings up something political (even something like politics/groups within the church.)
But to do otherwise while in such a position of authority is really...tacky. certainly unprofessional.
I seriously thought about going up to the conductor during the break and mentioning that I thought it was inappropriate, but the reason I didn't is that I knew I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on any actual wording he used that was inappropriate, because it was just his tone!
I mean, my brother was over in Iraq and you don't see me getting up on my high horse about it...
I hate it when people assume that the whole world agrees with him!

(lol, I just realized the irony of the post below this... However, certainly the difference is when one is in a "professional" position!)

1 comment:

Gavin said...

Well, look at the setting. I'm surprised he didn't get a standing ovation for it. I have a tendency to let my opinions slip, and once I put my foot in my mouth I always make it worse. I've made offhanded comments about political or religious issues in choir rehearsal: "...some God-awful trash like On Eagle's Wings. Errr... maybe you like it. And that's ok. I don't. And I'll never use it. Not that you can't like it. You can. People who like chant too much are pharisees anyway. Not that I mind people who like it. I like it..." and half an hour and a fully insulted choir later, I just say "what the hell am I doing?? Dammit, I don't get paid to tell you my opinions!" and get back on track with whatever piece I was just about to start on :P

It's difficult for me to balance being too "businessy" in choir against wasting time. On the one hand, I don't like people to think of me as excessively cold. On the other, talk too much and you waste time and make people angry. It's a hard tightrope to walk.

And just to prove I can't say anything non-offensive, I think the Iraq invasion was a horrendous mistake but that we need to stay until the country is relatively secure. That angers liberals AND conservatives!