Why Choirs Are NOT Boring...
All through my childhood, youth and into my mid-forties, I thought choirs were boring. That is, if I ever thought of them at all, which was once in a proverbial blue moon. Choirs had nothing to do with rock and roll; you never saw or heard choirs in country or folk music, at least not in the circles I moved in. And they were fairly typical circles for a baby boomer who remembers the first wave of rock’n’roll; then the years in which the music industry and society in general hoped that rock had died; and then the rise of The Beatles and all that came after. Choirs, and choral singing, were simply not cool. They didn’t even register on my musical or cultural radar.
But, sooner or later, most of us eventually grow up, to some extent at least. And I grew to love a lot of music that wasn’t rock, including a lot of (non-vocal) classical music. Somewhere along the way I became involved with amateur musical theatre. And as a follow on from that, someone, in fact several someones, encouraged me to (perish the uncool thought!) join a choir!
I held back, and held back. But I was having such a good time on the stage, I eventually weakened, and said to myself, “What the heck. Might as well give it a try.” Was I ever surprised! And very pleasantly so. I found that being in a choir is far from being uncool. In fact, it has nothing to do with ‘being cool.’ One is too busy being busy, loving learning, loving the music and the companionship, the sense of belonging to something really special, and straight out having more fun than you would believe.
I could give you any number of reasons why being in a choir is not boring. To name a few:
Being in an ensemble where voices sing different parts which all blend to create these beautiful harmonies is quite mind-blowing.
Learning and appreciating the ‘nuts and bolts’ of music – how to read it, how to interpret it, how to communicate it to an audience
Feeling the energy and excitement that a choir communicates to an audience being bounced back to you
Being exposed to musical works and genres that you might otherwise never encounter, and being constantly blown away by how much beautiful music there is
Having opportunities to travel, meet like-minded people, and sing in beautiful locations.
I could go on.
But what about from the audience’s point of view? Why is there a lingering perception of choral music as being a bit high-brow, maybe a bit ‘intellectual’ and ‘serious’ (ie not fun)? In a word, boring? Here are a few reasons why people tend to hold choirs at arm’s length:
“I think that ‘choirs’ are formal, stuffy and boring” The word ‘choir’ does often conjure up images of endless school assemblies or long church services, or rows of posh people dressed up and standing stiffly singing music that we can’t really relate to.
“Singing together is old-fashioned and usually religious or classical” A lot of choral music is old, in the sense that it was written long ago, in some cases hundreds of years ago. And a lot of it is based on religious themes.
“I can’t understand what they’re singing about. They’re not even singing in English. It doesn’t mean anything to me.” It’s true that a lot of music is sung in other languages, mainly because it was written in languages other than English, for instance, Italian operas, Latin masses, German lieder.
“There’s no fun in music by choirs” It’s not hard to see why people would see this as an obstacle to appreciating choirs, if their only experience was of half-hearted singing from ill-led church or school choirs.
No doubt you can all think of your own reasons for not enjoying choirs.
BUT – consider these thoughts, if you will:
If you encounter a choir made up of people who are passionate about their music, and about singing together
If such a choir is led by someone equally passionate, and who can inspire that choir to be the best they can be
If at a performance, there is a compere/narrator/announcer who explains and translates where necessary, and contextualises the music, and
If it is quite unmistakably evident to the audience that the choir, conductor and musicians are having the absolute time of their lives in bringing the music to them,
then you will be hard pressed not to enjoy the experience.
Sometimes your appreciation for choirs can be kick-started by seeing a choir performing music that is normally associated with another genre. A great example of this is a choral performance of the music of say, The Beatles, or Abba. A good choir will bring something to this wonderful music that is fresh and exciting, and the familiarity of the music will help you ‘get into it.’ A good choir can lead you on to other musical experiences that you may never have expected to enjoy.
The Oriana Choir is such a choir. We are absolutely passionate and committed to being the best we possibly can at what we do. We learn the music, and get so involved in it, that we cannot help but love it. We love bringing it to our audiences in a way that they can understand and appreciate it, and go away thinking they’ve just experienced something really special.
This time around, we’re bringing you two totally different, but complementary works;
Both in another language (Latin);
Both possible candidates for being labelled ‘boring’;
But both so beautiful, and presented to you with such love and passion
that you are sure to love the performance, and be very, very glad that you were there.
I love all this music. I love singing it with the Oriana Choir.
And I still love rock’n’roll music!
25 April 2021
Performances of the Requiem and Sunrise Mass will be at:
The Events Centre, Caloundra, Saturday, May 15th at 7.00 pm. Book your tickets at the venue or phone 54914240.
St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Sunday May 16th at 1.30 pm. Book your tickets at trybooking.com.