Okay, everyone, I’m finally going to write about the one faction of Concordia that really grinds my gears. I’ve been too afraid to write about them for a while now – some of them are even my friends! Maybe I just don’t understand them entirely! It’s not like they get that much special treatment! Maybe I’m just biased! The list of reasons to avoid this article goes on and on. But, as the wise old adage goes, “Don’t let the fear of upsetting some of your closest friends keep you from writing what could be a mildly offensive article.” I’m referring, of course, to the pride of Concordia College – The Concordia Choir.
As a member of the Concordia Band, it’s very easy for me to look at the Concordia Choir as an entity with some distaste. When I see the privileges and accommodations they are given, it can be frustrating. The Concordia Choir goes on a two-week domestic tour every year, which brings them all across the country to perform. The Concordia Band and Concordia Orchestra both have a one-week domestic tour that generally keeps them in the Midwest to perform and interact with high school students.
It’s also rather upsetting to see the choir held in much higher regard than both band and orchestra. Yes, Dr. Clausen has won however many Grammys. But that is not a reflection of the quality of the ensemble itself. None of this is to say that the ensemble isn’t worthy of praise. The choir is filled with talented and dedicated individuals, but so are the other ensembles at Concordia. One rather clear example of such preference of the Concordia Choir is the Music Scholarship Concert that was held a few weeks ago. At this concert, all three of the top ensembles performed for prospective students and their families. Both band and orchestra received kind applauses, but choir received a standing ovation. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “this band kid can’t accept that maybe the choir just did a better job than she did.” And, as someone who is coming at this from a clearly biased perspective, I’m not quite sure how to reinforce my credibility on the matter. All I can say is, in this particular instance, the Concordia Choir received a standing ovation for their reputation, not for their performance. If anything, all three performances warranted a standing ovation.
As I’m sure most music students know, the band and orchestra are somewhat jealous of the choir for some of the reasons that I’ve already discussed, among others. To have this lack of cohesion within a single department is an issue that needs to be acknowledged. There’s even a similar issue within the choir department itself. The “lower” choirs receive almost no recognition whatsoever. This is pretty much the case with every ensemble on campus that doesn’t hold the prestigious title of “Concordia” in its name. At almost any other college, ensembles like Chapel Choir, Kantorei, and Cantabile would be considered extraordinary, but because we have the Concordia Choir, these groups are often overlooked. Having an ensemble that is supposedly “better” than the others doesn’t diminish the talents of the others. As a school that prides itself in its dedication to the arts, shouldn’t we be equally dedicated to all of our ensembles?
So what do we do? It’s easy to give you some junk about “appreciating all of our fellow Cobbers and the work that they put into their passions.” But that is much easier said than done. And it’s not entirely up to the students to make this happen. There are far fewer opportunities to appreciate the talents of the students involved in “lower” ensembles. But, to the extent that we can equally distribute our interest in band, orchestra, and choir, we should do so. We should give standing ovations to ensembles whose performances warrant it. We should give privileges to groups not based on their reputation, but based on their current status. We should value all of the arts regardless of their apparent worth based on the titles we have given them.
And with that, I leave your corn buttered.
Emma Garton (’19) is a senior studying Communications and Spanish. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian this year. In addition to working for the paper, Emma works in Concordia’s IT department, interns at Absolute Marketing Group in Fargo, ND, and plays trumpet in the Concordia Band.