|Posted by Thomas J. West on August 8, 2013 at 7:55 AM|
image: (c) Thomas J. West
Last night, I shot video at the dress rehearsal for The A Cappella Project - Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that promotes contemporary a cappella singing. They are, as their CEO is fond of saying, "unashamedly amateur", yet they put on three major high-quality concerts a year and raise money for their chosen charity.
As I watched these amateur vocalists perform, I was left with only one conclusion: American culture needs more of this.
I have written before about the rise of recorded music and how it completely changed America's relationship to music as an art form. Recorded music is unforgiving in its ability to point out every performance flaw, thereby requiring musicians to become more and more meticulous about the technical aspects of their art. It also created a music consumer mindset rather than people making music for themselves.
Add to that the fact that musicians of all kinds have just flat out gotten more proficient at performing music. As a result, many of the amateur hobbyist organizations available to people have either become so demanding of time and focus that people sacrifice family life to pursue it, or have simply closed shop due to lack of support. High-achieving high school bands, barbershop choruses, and drum and bugle corps are all examples of where the pursuit of excellence has distanced the activity from the rest of society.
There is a place for excellence in live performance, but our culture really thrives on "average people" making their own music.
The performers I witnessed last night took what they did very seriously, but with an air of joy at the sheer pleasure of music-making that is sometimes lost by higher-achieving ensembles. These performers limit their involvement with music and their desire to achieve higher and higher standards of excellence. They're in it for the sheer joy of music, and that's something that makes the world a better place.
This article (c) 2013 Thomas J. West. All content on ThomasJWestMusic dot com is licensed under a Creative Contributions Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. Please contact the author before publishing on or off-line.