A harsh reality of any musical performance: if you’re the performer and listen to a recording of it, more often that not you’re going to want to crawl under a rock and hide until the CD is smashed into little shards of mercifully silent silicon. Trust the Blogmeister, he is wise.
Why is that? We all remember the “Frozen Friday” concert and it rocked the barn to the rafters, the adrenaline buzz lasted for two days. We sounded GOOD and the audience was taken along for a ride full of holiday cheer, just like we planned it. Then how is it that a recording of it is nowhere near as good, at least to us? I’ll give you two reasons. First, when you sang it you were surrounded by a bubble of singer-titanium that is the other members of the chorus and the conductor and the accompanists. A seriously happy place. Second, you were busy MAKING music, not critiquing it. I’ll even toss in a third bonus reason: energy. The energy that came out of you, was absorbed by the audience, and was then sent back. It’s the nature of the beast and the reason it’s so much fun. Great music makes the audience smile. Their applause makes the musicians smile. The circle of the life of a concert.
And then somebody holds up the recording they made on their phone and you can hear every little thing that’s not exactly perfect. There may even be an entrance that’s a little late and you get that fingernails-on-a-chalkboard feeling that contains a panicked thought of, “Was that me?” Well guess what: it wasn’t perfect. It was the Windward Choral Society putting every ounce of their energy and emotion into doing their absolute best. News flash: our budget for a room full of Josh Groban/Barbra Streisand professionals is…wait, let me look it up…oh yeah, that’s right: exactly zero dollars. Frankly, I don’t WANT a room of professional singers. Too stuffy, too serious. I want to sing with my friends. I want to spend four months getting better and better with the challenging repertoire that Susie pushes us with and then do everything I can to sing it well and, more importantly, transport the audience to the place that the piece is supposed to take them. I don’t want to lock myself in a recording studio to spend eight 20-hour days doing a trillion takes and tweaking everything with all the digital toys to make it not-me-but-exactly-right. Yuck.
I don’t care what kind of quality a recording might be (and the one that Ben made is really, really good), it can’t capture the look of joy on the faces of the singers or the corresponding look of joy on the faces of the members of the audience. It can’t negate the wrong note that was sung with such passion that it didn’t matter that it was wrong. It can’t translate the feeling that the choir gets when they know they just NAILED it on a tough piece. Was it perfect? No. It can’t be, not in a room full of people and all of the craziness that makes a concert what it is. It had all of the nuances of who and what we are.
100% of the parents in the world look at their newborn child and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. It doesn’t matter that 100% of the newborns in the world look like Winston Churchill. For that moment, in that place, to those parents…it’s exactly right in every way. You can go back later and look at photos of the baby and yeah, they’re cute as a button and the little toenails are just the darndest thing…but the little critter is going to look MORE like Winston Churchill without the glow of the loving parents around it.
Our blend of voices is like nothing else in the world and we need to relish our imperfection as we strive to be as close to perfect as we can. That’s really its own kind of “perfect”. Our mission was to be us and bring the joy of music to our community…and we did THAT perfectly.
And we did the whole thing in one take, thank you very much.