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On Being Reviewed

June 21, 2011

The chorus in which I sing garnered a gushy review from the San Francisco Classical Voice for this past weekend’s pair of concerts devoted to contemporary Scandinavian repertoire.

What amazes me is how my fellow choristers took the reviewer to task via our group email messaging system over one tiny detail (a passing remark about a 12-tone cluster of all things) even though she was overwhelmingly positive about every note we sang. It just goes to show how much people who are personally invested in an arts event obsess over these things. I often forget this fact as a critic.

I don't know if I am more surprised by the post-mortem conducted by my singer friends on the article or the article itself, which was overly kind. We didn’t remotely deserve such an enthusiastic appraisal in my opinion.

If I had been reviewing the concert, I would have taken the chorus directors to task for choosing material that was so same-y. In a program that included about 12 different pieces, only two of them had any kind of rhythm or pace to them. The rest meandered in a quasi-beatific fashion through enough languorous chord clusters and dour religious sentiment to send audiences (and most of the chorus members) into a state of incoherent sloth. Much of the music we performed was beautiful. But variety would have given the program much more shape and definition.

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