Monday, April 5, 2010

More Thoughts On The Complaints Choir

(Seriously people: defan yourself from here and become fans of us at Voices of Washington. Blogging here's going to stop very soon)

Four days later. Over 1600 individual hits, links from bloggers galore and not a little praise. We're proud to do what we did and we'd do it fifteen times over again.

And yet putting your work out there is never nor should ever be easy. There is no reward without risk, and often the risk is too great to do much more. We just put out a recording of singers that were in no way representative of the overall quality of the wonderful work they do continually in much-less-than-ideal circumstances. We have wonderful singers who given half the chance could astonish any music lover in the country. But preparation has been harried for reasons I've both written about and withheld. In such circumstances, when the production comes through there is little time to get everything exactly as it should be. We got the general idea across. And for that I'm very proud, and yet....

I find that I can't listen to my violin playing on the recording without continually cringing, and I worry that nobody else can either. I was complaining about this online only to have a singer shut me up with a comment about how beautiful people found my playing was at the session. But the truth is that I was always the Bob Uecker of the violin (how's that for a dated reference?). If that singer's perception was correct, you could never tell that from the recording. The truth was that I hadn't even picked up the instrument in six months, the strings were falling out of tune from second to second, and I conducted the rehearsal from the violin on no sleep whatsoever. C'est la vie, as they say.

No, it was not musically of a quality I ever want to release. Yes, there are hundreds of details within the recording (and the film) that I wish I had the chance to do over. But if given the option, I'd have done it on much less preparation. This video is supposed to do nothing more than introduce us to our community and introduce them to the spirit of the things we'd like to do and then move on immediately to the next project, which will be proportionately better from the experience we've gained. And make no mistake, we're going to do much much more :).

We've even gotten our first hatemail (from a former singer no less). And after the initial shock of receiving something bathed in such vituperation, I realized that the only rational response was sheer delight. We've done something that elicited such a seismic reaction that some people can only resort to vitriol. This is a simple youtube video of an organization that is still at the beginning of being a work in progress. And even that can cause some people to go off the deep end. The point was not (and never will be) to be another Dale Warland imitation for DC - how futile would that be? We're aiming to challenge the way music is perceived in a time and place where such perceptions desperately need challenging. If the complaints choir did not have the capacity to shock and disturb, it would have been utterly without merit. More than the youtube hits or the links, this is the best indicator yet that we're accomplishing precisely what we wanted.

That being said, I had hoped for some people by now to show interest in auditioning. Maybe it's just because the audition invitations are not being featured prominently enough on the website. Maybe Easter's a slow time for this sort of thing. Maybe we just need to give it time. But I can't deny the disappointment I feel about that. But the video is still only a few days old, and we can give it much more time than we have before there is real cause for concern.

It's only a matter of time now before we show exactly what we're capable of to anybody who wants to hear it. Those who don't are free to indulge themselves in whatever other things they like.