Why do we have choristers?

March 29, 2004 | 62 comments
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Rather than hijack the discussion of Russell’s post, I’ll post my question separately: I wonder why we insist on a chorister every time we sing. In most cases no one is really following the chorister anyway; we follow the pianist. Having grown up a Protestant, I know that a congregation can have very good singing with no chorister.

62 Responses to Why do we have choristers?

  1. Thom on March 29, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    Jim, to some extent I think it is designed as a “self-licking ice cream cone.” Its a cycle that doesn’t really serve any purpose beyond perpetuating itself.

    Why do we expect young men and young women to take turns acting as the chorister in YM/YW meetings? So they will know how to do it when they are in EQ and RS and sacrament meeting. Why do we have people lead the music in EQ and RS and sacrament meeting? Uh, well, we just do. We always have.

    I guess there are occasional reasons. We probably need someone to indicate that we should stand up for the “rest hymn” during sacrament meeting. Since EQ is usually held in whatever rinky dink room contains the cold, hard chairs of suffering (versus the RS padded chairs of comfort and hope), and this room invariably does not contain a piano or hymn books, it can be somewhat helpful to have a priesthood holder who can start the group off on a note and wave his hand through one verse of an opening hymn.

  2. Nate Oman on March 29, 2004 at 1:59 pm

    I have always assumed it was a calling designed for megolomaniacs to work out their fantasies with the minimum damage to others. They get to stand in front of everyone, make them stand up and sit down, and “educate” them by having the congregation sing some of those awful hymns that we never sing simply so that the chorister can demonstrate his or her power.

    They would all be Napoleons or worse if we didn’t have the chorister position to sublimate their desires.

  3. susan aka Nate's mom on March 29, 2004 at 2:07 pm

    While on the subject of music, I’ll nudge the discussion off topic in order to add in a little pet peeve dug from the depths of the past. My favorite all time job in the church was organist in the old 2nd ward church in SLC. Old pipe organ. Gorgeous stained glass windows of the first vision. I lavished all kinds of psychic energy on choosing and practising the prelude music. I was finally relieved of my position, because I refused to play quietly enough. I was causing reverence problems, you see, because people had to talk too loudly to be heard above the prelude music.

  4. susan aka Nate's mom on March 29, 2004 at 2:07 pm

    While on the subject of music, I’ll nudge the discussion off topic in order to add in a little pet peeve dug from the depths of the past. My favorite all time job in the church was organist in the old 2nd ward church in SLC. Old pipe organ. Gorgeous stained glass windows of the first vision. I lavished all kinds of psychic energy on choosing and practising the prelude music. I was finally relieved of my position, because I refused to play quietly enough. I was causing reverence problems, you see, because people had to talk too loudly to be heard above the prelude music.

  5. susan aka Nate's mom on March 29, 2004 at 2:07 pm

    While on the subject of music, I’ll nudge the discussion off topic in order to add in a little pet peeve dug from the depths of the past. My favorite all time job in the church was organist in the old 2nd ward church in SLC. Old pipe organ. Gorgeous stained glass windows of the first vision. I lavished all kinds of psychic energy on choosing and practising the prelude music. I was finally relieved of my position, because I refused to play quietly enough. I was causing reverence problems, you see, because people had to talk too loudly to be heard above the prelude music.

  6. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 2:08 pm

    Here’s an innocuous explanation:

    We all see choristers every conference, as the choirs sing. We think they’re important. Therefore, we must need them at the ward level.

    Of course, a chorister for the Tabernacle Choir is much more vital than a chorister for the 22nd ward elders quorum. Still, it happens.

  7. Kristine on March 29, 2004 at 2:08 pm

    Nate, I resemble that comment!

    Actually, in most wards it’s not very good for the ego to be the chorister–you’re actually completely powerless. The congregation’s following the organ or piano and you’re just standing there waving your arms. When the pianist doesn’t follow you, it looks like YOU made a mistake. There’s really nothing worse than standing up in front of the congregation during one of those hymns that no one knows. People either put the hymnbook down and start conversations with their neighbors or they spend the entire time glaring at you. (And, btw, Nate, do you think we just shouldn’t sing “unfamiliar” songs? Why are they in the book?)

    It is a weird calling, and I can’t think of any really good reasons to have it, except maybe that it’s useful if you don’t have a good organist.

    Is there a musicologist in the house? Jeremy? Does Hicks say anything about this in his book? (I can’t remember anything about it, and my copy is in one of the 14 boxes of books I haven’t unpacked since we moved.)

  8. Nate Oman on March 29, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    “And, btw, Nate, do you think we just shouldn’t sing “unfamiliar” songs? Why are they in the book?”

    1. They were written by a general authority.
    2. They were written by someone who was a relative of someone on the Church’s music committee.
    3. They were written by someone who was on the Church music committee.
    4. 1, 2, &/or 3 simultaneously.
    5. They were inexplicably liked by someone on the Church music committee.

    I think that about wraps it up…

  9. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve found that the chorister often acts as a go-between, negotiating between the congregation and the organist. The organist wants to play “I Need Thee Every Hour” at a tempo of 160, and the congregation is gasping for breath. Or, the congregation is trying to extend “I Stand All Amazed” into a thirty-minute dirge, with 30-second whole notes, and the organist is pulling out her hair. Either way, the chorister can act as a go-between, more or less coordinating different musical views.

  10. Kristine on March 29, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    Nate, you forgot one:

    6. You don’t know enough hymns!

  11. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 2:22 pm

    I don’t have a copy of the hymn book with me; there’s one in particular that I’ve always been puzzled over. As I recall, it’s got all of the hallmarks of bad hymn writing — it’s a bland melody, a not-too-easy key to play in, a single verse, and very uninspired lyrics. (As I recall, the rhyme is created by using the same word. And they only had to pull of _one_ rhyme! And with no other verses, they could have modified whatever to make a real fit. And they _still_ took the cheap and easy way out. They were playing T-ball, and they demanded to get four strikes.) Perhaps the reason I can’t remember the name is because I’ve _never_ heard it played in church.

  12. John David Payne on March 29, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’ve only been priesthood chorister, but I like leading the music. The most obvious benefit is that you get to pick what to sing. I love that, because about thirty or forty of the hymns in the book get sung eighty or ninety percent of the time.

    But most of all this topic makes me think of the chorister in my own Elders’ Quorum. This kid(who is known to some as Fresh Peaches) has absolutely no idea how to conduct music. Or rather, I should say that for the first year and a half that he was our chorister he had no idea. Lately, he seems to be attempting to grasp concepts like “downbeat” and “time signature.”

    He’s not a stupid kid, either. He’s an Ivy Leaguer. But he just waves his arms around in what I must assume are completely random patterns.

    And he loves it. You can tell by the look on his face. And by the way he bosses us around– “First verse, basses only. Second verse, unison. Third verse, a capella. Last verse, parts. And repeat the chorus.”

    Not only does he enjoy being chorister, but he has helped all the rest of us to enjoy singing hymns. That’s what a chorister can do, even if they’re not skilled at all. They can inject a little life and spirit. Isn’t that worth something.

    HOUSE OF PAYNE

  13. Kristine on March 29, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    Just say ‘”church music,” put in a quarter, and she’ll comment for an hour. Sheesh…

    Susan, there was actually a really awful article on music in the Ensign recently in which a General Authority (names omitted to protect the guilty) told a story about visiting a stake conference in the East (of course!) where the organist was playing (horrors!) Bach for prelude music, *forcing the congregation to talk louder.* Once the visiting GA publicly humiliated the organist by suggesting over the pulpit that hymns would be a more appropriate prelude, the congregation was able to be more reverent. Ugh–where to start with that one?!

  14. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 2:26 pm

    Nate,

    There are good new hymns that go into the book, that don’t get sung because the congregation doesn’t know them. Instead of singing “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth” once a month, congregations should try “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest A Crown” every once in a while. It has really great lyrics (“the very foes who slay thee have access to thy grace”) and great music. (Again without the hymn book — the music was by someone famous and good, but I can’t recall off the top of my head). After months of “How Firm a Foundation” and “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” being scheduled by others, I slated “Saints, Behold how Great Jehovah” for Elders Quorum and confused everyone there.

    So yes, there are some lesser-known hymns that are very worthy of being sung.

  15. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 2:33 pm

    By the way, the music to O Saviour Thouh Who Wearest a Crown is a Bach arrangement. I looked it up online. :)

  16. MDS on March 29, 2004 at 2:37 pm

    If memory serves, the music to “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest A Crown” is by Hans Leo Hassler, with the arrangement in our hymn book by J.S. Bach.

  17. Aaron Brown on March 29, 2004 at 2:52 pm

    Sorry for yet another story, but I really can’t help myself…

    I had an Argentine companion in my mission who never ceased to remind everyone that prior to serving, he had studied “Direccion de bandas” (Orchestra conducting) for … get this … nine years. NINE YEARS!! He would conduct imaginary orchestras non-stop, no matter where we were and what we were doing. It drove me nuts! When it was time for Zone Conferences, it was understood by everyone that he was always to conduct the hymns, as he had the “best qualifications.” Apparently, he was once passed over for some sister missionary at a zone conference, and things got ugly.

    I often wanted to ask him what he learned in the SEVENTH year of studying band conducting that he didn’t know in the SIXTH year. I never did. I also couldn’t help feeling bad for him, given that there probably isn’t much of a future in orchestra conducting in his third-world country. (Is there a Buenos Aires Philharmonic?) Anyway, at least he can take comfort in knowing that as long as he remains active in Church, he’ll always have some place to showcase his skills, even if they do go largely unappreciated.

    Aaron B

  18. Brent on March 29, 2004 at 2:52 pm

    I remember being called to be the Priesthood chorister when I was either a teacher or a priest and having to lead the hymns without any music. I just remember how flustered I would get trying to get everyone started on the right note and keeping time with the music. People who looked at me only during that time must have thought I had a skin disorder that caused my face to shine a bright scarlet color. I remember being up there sweating bullets while trying to keep my legs from shaking. For me, then the answer to why we have choristers is this –it is in order to torture shy young men.

  19. Brent on March 29, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    Aaron, which missionary was that– or would you prefer not to name names?

  20. Kristine on March 29, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    Well, sort of. Hassler wrote down a traditional hymn tune with a basic harmony, and Bach turned it into music. It’s used twice in the St. Matthew Passion and once in the St. John, as well as in a few cantatas. The traditional English translation is “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” The text in our hymnbook, a really fine example of adding unique LDS understanding to a traditional hymn, is by Karen Lynn Davidson, who is on the English faculty at BYU and an expert on Eliza R. Snow’s poetry.

    (Climbing down from the lecturer’s platform now…)

  21. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 3:03 pm

    Get back up on that platform, Kris, you’re full of interesting information.

    What can you tell us about sister Davidson? I have long thought that “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest” and “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” had some of the most well-crafted lyrics in the green book. Has she written more? (Will they be included in the next installment of the hymn book?).

  22. Aaron Brown on March 29, 2004 at 3:08 pm

    Brent,

    I’m talking about Elder Quinteros. (Was his first name Pablo?) Just in case my story doesn’t ring a bell… he was also known as a tennis aficionado who had a Gabriella Sabatini-fetish, which I found rather vile. He was really, really small — probably the shortest elder in the mission. When he and I (I’m 6’5″) would walk down the street together, all the neighborhood kids would yell out “El Grande y el Chiquitito!!” He would turn bright red in the face and get really pissed.

    Aaron B

  23. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 3:11 pm

    “and an expert on Eliza R. Snow’s poetry.”

    I’m a little slow today, I just digested that and realized something — is there a story behind the 292/293 placement?

  24. Grasshopper on March 29, 2004 at 3:12 pm

    I think a good chorister can infuse a little enthusiasm into the hymn singing (where the hymn is designed to be sung enthusiastically). If the chorister knows the words, sings out confidently, and smiles at the congregation, it can have a positive effect.

    Plus, the chorister gets to make everybody feel silly when they stop singing at verse three and the chorister and organist go on to the verses written below the music.

  25. Kevin on March 29, 2004 at 3:42 pm

    I’m with Grasshopper. I’ve always seen the chorister’s job as setting the tone (emotional, not musical) rather than the tempo. If that’s true, then most chorister’s fail. But every once in a while, one will come along who’s able to extract some life from the normally lethargic congregants.

  26. Kristine on March 29, 2004 at 4:32 pm

    It occurred to me that the ironic self-mocking font was not working when I wrote “just put in another quarter…” and that its juxtaposition to Susan’s accidental multiple post might have made someone think I was making fun of someone other than myself. I wasn’t! (Really, why would I, when I provide so much material all by myself?!)

  27. Brent on March 29, 2004 at 4:39 pm

    Aaron, I think I remember Quinteros, but as you describe walking down the street with him, I can’t help but picture you and the Chapolin Colorado for some reason.

  28. Steve Evans on March 29, 2004 at 4:48 pm

    Karen Lynn Davidson was in our ward until recently, and is a wonderful and brilliant person. She’s published several music-related articles and written a number of very interesting books about the LDS hymns, but she’s also written a great book about women finding a place in Church when they don’t fit the mold, called “Thriving on Our Differences”. My wife considers her to be a role model, and I can’t say she’s wrong to do so.

    Kaimi, she’s written plenty of other hymns, too (do you remember the Davidsons?).

  29. Kaimi on March 29, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Steve,

    Really? Was she there when I was there? Wow, I wish I had known. As a general matter, I didn’t get to know hardly any of the ward members in Manhattan — I was a long-time nursery worker. (Which was fun too).

  30. Steve Evans on March 29, 2004 at 5:17 pm

    Yeah, you missed a lot lurking in the shadows. But the Davidsons are a great couple — they now live on some giant ranch in Montana, if memory serves.

  31. Renee on March 29, 2004 at 5:44 pm

    The bishop can tell everyone to stand. That’s how they did it back in the Protestant church of my youth. Plus, the order of service we followed indicated it in the from of the hymn book.

    Does the chorister pick the hymns? If so, that would be a great calling (of course I have no idea how to lead music but that’s beside the point if no one is paying attention anyway).

  32. Kim Siever on March 29, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    One of my many pet peeves is when the congregations starts singing on the second note because their paying attention to the organist/pianist rather than the chorister. I follow the chorister, and am almost always the first one to start singing. :-) I also use the chorister to see how long I need to hold the last note and the fermatas. But that’s just me.

  33. clark on March 29, 2004 at 6:58 pm

    Not to add to the rest. But I sure wish they’d restore “you who unto the Savior” to How Firm a Foundation.

  34. Matt J on March 29, 2004 at 7:22 pm

    That’s ‘Yoo-hoo unto Jesus’, isn’t it?

  35. cooper on March 29, 2004 at 11:14 pm

    I have to concur wholeheartedly with Nate! We have had the same operatic chorister for years. She stands each week and directs music to her own personal opera. We just happen to be the back up singers. And don’t get me started on the unknown songs thing. Just once could we sing a familiar hymn?

    Grasshopper, I wish (and dream) for the day we could have the chorister you describe.

  36. Jeremy on March 30, 2004 at 12:16 am

    Doubts about the conductor’s importance aren’t the exclusive domain of church members. There’s an old joke among orchestral musicians: a violinist with a little conducting background is pulled from the ensemble and put on the podium when the regular conductor falls ill. He conducts rehearsals and concerts for four weeks straight, to considerable critical acclaim, while the maestro recovers. Finally, the regular conductor returns and the violinist takes his regular seat for rehearsal. Guy next to him leans over and says “Hey, where have you been all month?”

    In a church context, I think most choristers don’t do much because most choristers don’t do much. I don’t mind not having a chorister for pick-up hymns in PH opening exercises (if the alternative is some Deacon with no sense of meter). On the other hand, like Grasshopper, I’ve had a few choice experiences where the chorister makes a difference. In one ward, the organist was a doctoral candidate in organ and harpsichord, and the chorister was a Wagnerian tenor; they had a knack for compelling the congregation to sing with considerably more enthusiasm than is found in most wards. In other wards, the chorister’s poise and mood, though not professionally developed to that degree, did lend a greater sense of reverence to the hymn, and/or at least diminish the congregation’s natural tendency to slog through the music like a chore. I also get the sense that when the chorister looks like they know what they’re doing, the congregation pays more attention to him/her and pays a little more attention to things like tempo, downbeats, cutoffs, etc.

    The point is, we get by without a chorister, but a good one can make things a little more worthy of heavenly ears.

    BTW, hey Aaron, don’t go knockin’ your comp for studying conducting for 7 years. I’ve hear of far, far more wasteful undertakings (insert lawyer joke here…).

  37. Dan on March 30, 2004 at 1:57 pm

    When the Aaronic Priesthood holders lead the hymns in opening exercises of priesthood meeting, I think it’s the only time they actually sing the hymns. I watch the priests and deacons on the stand during sacrament meeting (in our ward, the front rows are for families with small children) and they rarely sing. If I were in charge, I’d threaten those who don’t sing along with a guest stint as ward chorister.

  38. Kristine on March 30, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    Last week, after I noticed during the opening hymn that the deacons weren’t singing, I walked over and handed each of them a hymnal. They sang the sacrament hymn!! (Well, they at least opened the books and moved their lips as much as adolescent boys are capable of such motion)

  39. Brent on March 30, 2004 at 3:36 pm

    Kristine, that is awesome! Thinking back to being that age, that probably would have been enough for me to sing every week and every song thereafter. (At least until you were released as chorister.) For fun, you ought to try and make eye contact with the deacons in subsequent weeks while conducting, just to let them know you are watching.

  40. Kristine on March 30, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    Oh, I’ll be watching them, all right, and won’t be at all shy about doing the same thing again, as necessary : )

    Another useful strategy is to program Hymn #119, Come, We That Love the Lord, and fix one’s eye on non-singers in the first line of the second verse, which says, “Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God.” A friend of mine who was the chorister in my college ward actually turned around to face a non-singing member of our bishopric for that line. His repentance was swift and lasting : ).

  41. Brent on March 30, 2004 at 4:16 pm

    I think you have answered Jim’s question.

  42. Jim F. on March 30, 2004 at 11:33 pm

    Yes, Brent, I finally have an answer. Now I only need to get Kristine into my ward.

  43. Nate Oman on March 30, 2004 at 11:42 pm

    “Last week, after I noticed during the opening hymn that the deacons weren’t singing, I walked over and handed each of them a hymnal. They sang the sacrament hymn!!”

    What did I say? Having choristers is all about controlling and containing the megolomaniacs in our midst. It is all about the deflection and sublimation of their mad lust for power.

    Keep your eye on Kristine. People like this are a threat to democracy.

  44. Nate Oman on March 30, 2004 at 11:42 pm

    “Last week, after I noticed during the opening hymn that the deacons weren’t singing, I walked over and handed each of them a hymnal. They sang the sacrament hymn!!”

    What did I say? Having choristers is all about controlling and containing the megolomaniacs in our midst. It is all about the deflection and sublimation of their mad lust for power.

    Keep your eye on Kristine. People like this are a threat to democracy.

  45. Mike on April 15, 2004 at 3:03 pm

    what is it with you Oman’s double posting lately?

  46. Soyde River on June 28, 2005 at 8:49 pm

    It is possible to live in a first world country and have a third world mentality, Aaron.

    Perhaps you might have heard of the Teatro Colon. Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo, Renata Tebaldi, Jussi Bjoerling, Otto Klemperer, Lorin Maazel, Maria Callas, Birgit Nielsen, Mstislav Rostropovich, Artur Rubinstein, have all performed there. Ever heard of any of them?

    Also, have you heard of Marta Argerich, Daniel Baremboin, Bruno Gelber, Lalo Schifrin. Heard of them? They are Argentinians who have performed in Europe and the USA.

    Your companion may have been short, but he knew more about music than you did. And, by the way, there is a Philharmonic of Buenos Aires.

  47. Jack on June 28, 2005 at 9:15 pm

    Soyde River,

    Don’t you think Aaron was really talking about the relative lack of opportunity one has there verses what one may have in a first world country? Even where I live the pickings are quite slim. How many folks in the U.S. would love to make a living as a musician but can’t simply because of the competition? Magnify that by 10 times and Aaron doesn’t sound too far off to me. Your list of prodigies may also serve to remind us of how horribly stratified third world countries can be.

  48. Soyde River on June 29, 2005 at 11:53 am

    It wasn’t the lack of opportunity. It was the condescension in his post. Many third world countries have a rich cultural tradition, Argentina among them. And that cultural tradition is fed by people who are willing to be interested in the arts whether or not there is a payout for them. Even if that means studying orchestra conducting for years.

    Unfortunately, many missionaries go to third world countries and are cultural philistines. It is possible to be a missionary in a third world country and go to a museum, or a classical concert, or an art gallery, etc. But most do not.

  49. Jack on June 29, 2005 at 2:03 pm

    “Many third world countries have a rich cultural tradition, Argentina among them. And that cultural tradition is fed by people who are willing to be interested in the arts whether or not there is a payout for them.”

    Agreed. However, I think I detect a little bias on you’re part when you accuse Aaron of being condescending. Would you have the same reaction to his comment (# 17) if he had served in the U.S. and his companion were an American? C’mon. I think the guy just plain got on Aaron’s nerves.

  50. Soyde River on June 29, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    Yes, I would. It’s the same feeling I get when I hear a New Yorker talk about anything west of the Hudson as being a cultural wasteland.

    And by the way (to be alittle condescending), “versus” is not spelled verses, neither is the possesive pronoun “your”, spelled you’re.

  51. Jack on June 29, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Soyde,

    Wuts rong with mie spelleeng?

    Oh, well. To me, Aaron’s comment comes across as having more to do with opportunity than talent–and, of course, his companion’s fastidious fixation on his own ambitions.

    But what do I know. I live west of the Hudson.

  52. JKS on June 29, 2005 at 8:13 pm

    ” I also couldn’t help feeling bad for him, given that there probably isn’t much of a future in orchestra conducting in his third-world country. (Is there a Buenos Aires Philharmonic?)”

    I also found Aaron’s question to be either condescending or ignorant. Might as well wonder if they have running water or cars there. And referencing a country and assuming what it does or does not have based on a “third world country” label can often be offensive. What exactly does “third world” refer to? I would be interested in the actual definition. But when I hear Americans using the term, it seems to just mean “one of those countries with lots of poor people, poor healthcare, unstable governments and bad water.” Which countries should actually be in that category, I am not experienced enough to know. But throwing the term around about countries that have much to be proud of (and any person of any country is usually patriotic) is offensive.
    I, myself, would wonder about anyone’s chances, in the US or another country, of making it as an orchestra conductor, a singer, an artist, etc.

  53. Jack on June 30, 2005 at 12:20 am

    “Might as well wonder if they have running water or cars there.”

    That’s precisely the point, JKS. I too served in a South American country and the standard of living was far lower than what we’re used to here. (well, what I’m used too. I’m assuming that everyone involved in this debate lives in the U.S.) Why is it that we must treat this fact (as sad as it is) as if it were a big elephant in the room? Or the emperor’s new cloths?

  54. Aaron Brown on June 30, 2005 at 12:56 am

    Folks,

    This is just bizarre. It sounds to me like certain people have “issues” that pre-date their reading of my comment. All I was saying, first and foremost, is that there’s something odd about spending years and years of your life honing a skill that will neither make you a living, nor allow you to exhibit your talent in any meaningful way. If I study piano-playing, I may never become (nor aspire to become) a professional, concert pianist, but at least I can play piano in Church (when many others can’t) or just make beautiful music for myself, or others. If I study band-directing, and I’m unlikely to make a career out of directing bands or orchestras, what do I do with this skill? Sure, I can direct music in Church, but so can almost anybody else! It’s not like people are going to notice a really good band director, and comment on how wonderful his or her skill is. Nobody cares. It’s not like you can go home and make beautiful music in the privacy of your own bedroom by swinging your hands in the air. So what’s the point? And keep in mind that I’m talking about studying band-directing for nine years. NINE YEARS! I mean, what does one learn in band-directing class during the eighth year, that one didn’t know in the seventh year? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Secondarily, I was pointing out that my observation is even more true in a third-world country than it would be in the U.S. I’m sure that becoming an orchestra director is hard enough in the U.S. You can’t tell me it wouldn’t be much, much harder in South America. I don’t need to be intimately familiar with the Argentine classical music scene to know this. Please.

    JKS — “Third world” is not a pejorative term. There are first-world countries, and there are third-world countries. This is not controversial. Of course one can act or speak pejoratively about third-world countries, but that’s a different issue. And in any event, that’s really not what I did. Jack understands what I was saying.

    I really don’t think I was that unclear. Time for everyone to transfer their indignance to something more worthy of it.

    Aaron B

  55. Aaron Brown on June 30, 2005 at 1:15 am

    P.S. No Soyde River, ni de Boca. Y no soy de San Lorenzo, tampoco. Soy aficionado de Xuxa.

  56. JKS on June 30, 2005 at 2:31 am

    ““Third world” is not a pejorative term. There are first-world countries, and there are third-world countries. This is not controversial. Of course one can act or speak pejoratively about third-world countries, but that’s a different issue. And in any event, that’s really not what I did. Jack understands what I was saying.”

    I disagree. People in “first world” countries came up with the term and are the ones who use it. If you walk into a room full of people who consider themselves “upper class” who are speaking of “the lower classes” how could you not feel the term was pejorative.

  57. Soyde River on June 30, 2005 at 9:00 am

    Some people go to Argentina and hear the Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, even if only on the radio in a member’s house..

    Others don’t even know they exist.

    Whatever floats your boat.

  58. NFlanders on June 30, 2005 at 10:07 am

    While I agree with Soyde River about the cultural philistinism of many missionaries, I can’t help but put part of the blame on the church.

    “It is possible to be a missionary in a third world country and go to a museum, or a classical concert, or an art gallery, etc. But most do not.”

    In my Argentine mission, we weren’t allowed to do any of these things. I suppose we could have gone to a museum had it been in our area, but what are the odds of that? Most 19-year-old missionaries couldn’t care less about cultural things, but it doesn’t help when they are forbidden from learning anything about them. Also, it is important to remember that most missionary proselyting areas are in extremely poor neighborhoods. That tends to skew your view of the entire country.

    P.S. Soy de Banfield

  59. Jack on June 30, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    “It is possible to be a missionary in a third world country and go to a museum, or a classical concert, or an art gallery, etc. But most do not.”

    JKS, without trying to be cheeky, I see that you have not criticized Soyde River for his use of the term “third world country”. Perhaps a criticism is implied because of your general dislike of the term. On the other hand one cannot help but conclude that you simply don’t believe Aaron to have had a genuin concern for his companion’s probable lack of opportunity because of where he lived–unless, of course, you verily believe his companion to have just as much opportunity there as he would if he lived in the U.S., Canada, Europe, or Japan.

    Soyde, old buddy, why are you out of sorts because Aaron didn’t know something? You still haven’t proved that he was wrong in his assessment of his companion’s comparative lack of opportunity.

  60. John Mansfield on June 30, 2005 at 2:03 pm

    Out of curiousity, I just looked at the programs of study at the Peabody, Eastman, and Julliard music schools. At all three, conducting is a possible field to study for a Master of Music or Doctor of Musical Arts degree, but not for a Bachelor of Music degree.

    As a missionary in Argentina, I tried going to a couple of museums, but they were closed on our preparation day. We did meet an artist in Mar del Plata whose young teenage son we taught a couple of discussions. We took in an gallery exhibit of some of his work. It was nice stuff, though it was a little jarring when we recognized that the model for a nude portrait was his wife. Nice paintings; I can still call a few of them up from memory.

  61. Aaron Brown on June 30, 2005 at 7:29 pm

    JKS — Your analogy to “upper class” and “lower class” proves nothing. The designation “third-world” refers to indisputable, empirically-verifiable economic characteristics of a particular nation. It isn’t a slur. This is just a question of accurate usage. Nobody disputes that Argentina is a third-world country. Or nobody, that is, except perhaps you.

    Aaron B

  62. Hans Hansen on June 30, 2005 at 11:56 pm

    Re: The Passion Chorale: “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest A Crown/O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

    Kristine wrote: Well, sort of. Hassler wrote down a traditional hymn tune with a basic harmony, and Bach turned it into music. It’s used twice in the St. Matthew Passion and once in the St. John, as well as in a few cantatas. The traditional English translation is “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” The text in our hymnbook, a really fine example of adding unique LDS understanding to a traditional hymn, is by Karen Lynn Davidson, who is on the English faculty at BYU and an expert on Eliza R. Snow’s poetry.
    *****************************************************

    I would like to add:

    Hans Leo Hassler’s tune, now generally called, “Herzlich tut mich verlangen” (that text was written by Christoph Knoll in 1599), was originally a secular love song from 1601. JS Bach harmonized and arranged it in several of his compositions and it is used five times, not two, in the “St. Matthew Passion”.

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