The title of this post is something allegedly said by Gustav Holst regarding amateur music groups and church choirs taking on ambitious works to perform.
The recent musical performance at my church for Reformation/Confirmation Sunday is just what Holst was referring to. Although we are a larger congregation and boast a lovely pipe organ and two fine organists, our choir is small and aging. We have four first sopranos, four second sopranos, four altos, three tenors, and four basses. (We suspect that at least half of the bass section can’t read music. They also have no sense of rhythm.) Our big number was an arrangement of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God with a six person brass choir, timpani, anvil, snare drum, and two hand bell players. The brass players and percussionists and were borrowed from the college, congregation, and community. I think the percussion instruments came from the high school.
We worked on the choir parts for a few weeks, and then practiced once as a full ensemble the day before our performance. Our choir sits by the organ in the front of the church, facing the congregation. The brass and percussion were wedged behind the altar and pastors. The organ pipes were just above them. Our organist for the performance likes to play really loud. Strategically placed pillars obscured the instrumentalists’ view of the conductor. (Some members once suggested that the pillars be removed to help with better visuals, but an architect in the choir said the building would fall down if we did that. ) Between the loud brass and percussion and the louder organ, it was very hard for anyone to hear one another.
It went just as you might imagine. When we were together, it was great. When we couldn’t hear, we just watched the conductor and hoped for the best. Sometimes the trumpets hit their high notes; sometimes, well, they were close. What was important was that the congregation loved it. It was worth doing. The young people who were confirmed may fall away from the church as many do, but by golly, they know they are Lutheran!
What endeavors in your life have been worth doing, albeit badly?