The thing that we all wrap our head around as part of this bunch, right out of the non-profit paperwork:
“The primary purpose and mission of the Windward Choral Society is to promote the joy, love, appreciation and value of multi-cultural choral music within the Windward O‘ahu community through a non-auditioned community-based chorus made up of mixed voices (SATB) from high school ages and up who are residents throughout the Island of O‘ahu.”
I wanted to pick this apart a little to expand on what we do and who we are. I suspect that some of this is new to many of you, not in a “that ain’t right” way but in an “I never thought about it like that” way. In the words of Fat Albert, “If you’re not careful, you might learn something”.
– “Primary purpose and mission of the Windward Choral Society” seems fairly straightforward but it’s actually part of the structure of how things operate. The mission statement is also a guide and there have been many ideas and potential programs that have been proposed to and by the Board of Directors that bounce off like a tennis ball. Are they great ideas? Probably. They just don’t stand the test of who we are as defined by the mission statement. And believe me, if EVERY idea was put into action there would be 1) no focus on anything, which leads to dismal failure and 2) WAY too much work to do.
– “Promote the joy, love, appreciation and value (of music)” is best dealt with one word at a time because there’s a LOT in there. “Promote” is a verb, a call to action for us. We take the music to our community and offer it as a gift instead just sitting and singing and hoping someone will listen.
– “Joy” is the core of it all. Singing brings joy to us and, if we work hard, to our audience. As I’ve said before…if it didn’t, we wouldn’t do it.
– “Love” is deeper than just the music; it’s the group’s culture. We love the music, we love to bring it to our communities and, most importantly, we love each other each in our own way. I’ve never made music with a group like this one. It’s awesome.
– “Appreciation” brings together all of our generations, backgrounds, home towns and ears. With our huge repertoire there are a few pieces that I’ve sung that I didn’t particularly care for but I can appreciate how important they might be to their culture or the skill of the composer. Just because it’s not my cup of tea does NOT mean it isn’t a spectacular piece of music and appreciation of its significance is why I sing it with a smile.
– “Value” is a monster. It means so many things to so many people that it’s a big ol’ bucket of things. Let’s look at this from the perspective of our audience (because I think we all have a pretty good idea of the value we feel). It can be as simple as adding a layer of Christmas cheer or as complex as the depth of feeling that a song can bring when it finds its way down into your soul. It can be a belly laugh (or a lump in the throat) when you really needed it. As we move forward in our evolution, the health and wellness value of music is going to be added to our focus and I think that’s exciting.
– “Multi-cultural choral music” is just freakin’ awesome. We’ve passed the 30 different cultures/languages mark and our audiences are jacked EVERY time they hear something they’ve never heard before (and chances are it’s something we’ve never sung before). Most awesome.
– “Within the Windward O‘ahu community” is all about where we are and the people who come hear us sing. We’ve become a valuable part of the fabric of the windward side and people talk about us and ask when the next show when we bump into them in the aisle at Safeway. When you pack every venue to overflowing (even when we did a single Christmas show at Ko’olau and 600 seats weren’t enough…yikes) it’s a loud statement from the community that they appreciate what we do.
– “Through a non-auditioned community-based chorus” absolutely boggles the mind. I am NOT talking out of turn when I say that this choir is just plain crazy good. It shouldn’t be. It’s big and it’s full of people who would NOT pass an audition for a highbrow outfit. If you look around and listen I know you can find someone who can’t carry a tune in a bucket…at the BEGINNING of the rehearsal season. By the time it’s showtime the combination of Susie’s hard work, the singer’s hard work and the support of the rest of their section (refer to “joy” and “love” above) makes it all mash together into magic. The tired old phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” really does fit.
– “Made up of mixed voices (SATB)” is a half lie. Mixed? Sure. SATB? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s SSAATTBB or sometimes someone is quacking like a duck or making Brazilian rainforest noises or sneezing on purpose or expressing their appreciation for fruitcake with a long, moaning, “Mmmmmmm”. I’ll cut the Board some slack on this one.
– “From high school ages and up” is important and something that I think could be more in focus. We’ve got the “and up” just fine (much grey in the hair I notice) but I think we could do more to bring in younger singers. There are quite a few but I think we can all agree that there could be more. Perhaps a visit to a high school choir rehearsal? Hmm.
– “Who are residents throughout the Island of O‘ahu” is actually pretty cool. Yeah, we’re based on the windward side but there’s a shocking pile of folks who drive a LONG way to sing with us. “Long” as in sitting-in-the-car-during-rush-hour-long, it’s not like the island is all that big…but you get the point. It’s a very clear statement about the quality of our leadership and our singing and we should be darn proud of it.
So there you have it. Each member of the Board had a hand in putting it together and I think they got it right. If you have questions, comments or maybe some input to it, don’t be afraid to bring it up. Mission statements evolve…just like our big pile of singers does.