Festival Chorus

Festival Chorus

Friday, April 13, 2012

What it's all about

I came across this article in the LA Times about the Soweto (South Africa) Gospel Choir and I was struck by the closing of the article and how it related to our discussion (okay, my rant) about the beauty of volunteer choirs. Of course in our society commitment and uniformity are not two ideals valued very highly so it is no surprise that the reviewer ends the article with a question about this phenomenon. Perhaps it is just me but I continue to believe the whole of a choir is greater than the sum of it's parts.

Near the end, a quartet of singers joined an electric guitarist for a deeply sensual rendition of “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, and the music lent credence to an introductory speech in which one choir member had said the show’s objective was to “reflect the meaning of the word ‘grace’ — not just religion, but beauty, love and the strength of the human spirit.”

The human spirit, yes — this you couldn’t miss. If Wednesday’s concert failed to deliver anything, though, it was a strong sense of any single human; even the group’s most expressive vocalists (such as the woman who sang Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”) seemed hemmed in by a responsibility to maintain the whole.

To some degree, of course, that’s the essence of choral music — and there was no doubting the powerful uniformity of Soweto Gospel Choir’s well-rehearsed sound. But for all its emotion and stimulation, the group’s performance seemed to pose a question it couldn’t quite answer: Must representing one’s culture preclude the representation of oneself?

For the full story please see the full LA Times Article

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