How the tour feels, II

To separate my entirely personal musings from the choir notes of more general interest, I would like to add a brief note before going to bed. Today has been just excellent, with so many prayers answered. It has been more worshipful, I have kept focussed and more joyful, and found more people to talk to. Even the churches have been better: I had the chance to chat to a Dutch man after today’s concert who explained that unfortunately all the preconceptions I have of an awesome thriving Reformed church here are a bit over the mark. He claims the preaching these days is not so solid, and rather few churches stand in the line of Dordrecht. A pity, but after speaking to a few people I am getting a tiny bit of a feel for how the buildings we are visiting are being used and what the church here is like.

Choir-wise, I have had some good conversations today and found it much easier. Having such a stonking concert was a help too, though I am always a bit doubtful about taking too much away personally. When we get a gift like that, it is entirely right to praise God, but it does not solve the problem we have of placing ourselves in the world. Before, there was all the usual doubt: how good are we? Can we really expect superb singing? How should we know where to aim, what to work for, what is right for us to be trying to do as a choir? Getting a good concert is like a good exam result, leaving you thinking you have solved the problem with the answer, ‘we are awesome after all, and should aim for the top’, when in fact the highs do not define our experience and living for them is not really the right way to place ourselves in the world at all. Nevertheless, it is a relief to many of us and a big boost to confidence generally. We were basically at the level of a professional choir today, and if we knew we could sing like that again next year (and here consistency is the usual killer for a Cambridge choir) we would certainly be able to investigate marketing ourselves in the right way so as to make enough money from the tour to contribute towards the tour costs, rather than the current situation where we and college pay for the privilege of entertaining others and taking our own holiday. To note, the arrangement with the venues so far has been that we have been let off the usual fee to hire them but they can collect whatever ticket money or collection they like for themselves. The venues have had the responsibility of advertising for us, and the audiences have been tiny, on the order of a dozen. There is a lot of thought needed as to what we should aim for next year and how to go about it. For now though, we do not care that no-one is coming to hear us, and are can just enjoy the singing. As I commented today in one of my customary many trite theological quips, ‘When the church is empty, it is doubly clear than in chapel who our biggest listener is’.

Sorry for the late-night ramble.

When re-publishing this, I thought I should add a note for the record to allay choir politics; the comment above is understandably on one side of a certain issue because it is a comment on the concert. I am aware of the context and would wish to equally weight the other side of the matter.