Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Devil's Interval

Despatches from the dark heart of choral England

This is not Songs of Praise. This is not The Sound of Music. Any posts about singing and choirs on this site will not feature chirpy little entries eulogising sincere mutual (platonic) affection and joy in the company of our fellow man. They will not trumpet the giddy delights of last month's sell-out triumph in Piddletrenthide. If you want fluffy sopranos burbling on about how much fun they had at the last rehearsal and clean-cut, square-jawed basses who harmonise lyrics like, "Gayer than laughter, are you/Sweeter than music, are you" with sincerity and nary a trace of irony then you're in the wrong place. Go find a Stepford choir.

This is the truth. Choirs are a seething hotbed of frustrated desires. They ooze wrath, lust, greed, sloth, envy and pride from every pore. Even gluttony gets a look-in when the chocolate digestives come out during a tea-break. It's only logical. Put any group of people in a confined space for a period of time, add a generous dollop of performance-related anxiety and the knowledge they're being judged against a subjective yet freakishly over-intellectualised yardstick like musical taste and see what happens. Frankly it's a miracle more rehearsals don't end in pitched battles and illegally-sharpened tuning forks at dawn.

So don't watch the conductor (as if anyone would). Watch this space.

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