2/02/2006

Sometimes Being Relevant Means Getting Very Creative I have a 16-year-old daughter who absolutely loves to sing. She's pretty good at it too. I'm not sure where she got the talent - certainly not from me (I can't even hum) - but it's gratifying to see her constantly searching for new ways to use her beautiful voice. When she started her junior year of high school in August, she was especially excited about being selected to join the Chamber chorus at school. It's a group of extraordinarily talented singers who perform primarily classical pieces. I confess I wasn't as excited about this as she was. I'm more your Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Martina McBride sort of gal. I can't say I've ever found a lot of relevance in music that was popular with Kings and Gladiators. But she assured me I would learn to love the Chamber chorus. Well, she was right. I have - not because my redneck ears have suddenly acquired more sophisticated tastes, but because the Chamber chorus has found a way to make the music more relevant. As a Chamber group, they perform in very elaborate costumes, which are custom made and quite impressive in their detail. (No, I didn't make hers, but I did personally craft the check that paid for it.) For their annual Madrigal feast recently, the students performed a play they wrote themselves. It was an absolute hoot! They were told they could do whatever they liked, as long as the characters were the same as what one expects in a castle in the 1600s. The music each sang could be from any era. The scenario was that the King and Queen were holding a contest to find talented people in the kingdom. So, here's what they came up with: The King - Elvis The Queen - Latifa The Prince - Prince The Princess - Lisa Marie Presley The Knight - her name was Gladys and yes, she had Pips The Supremes - Taco Supreme, Burrito Supreme and Nacho Supreme (their lead apparently had been kidnapped by the Phantom, so they sang only the background with no melody - too funny!) The Phantom - Michael Jackson The Jackson 5 - (An obscure family from the kingdom of Pop) Michael had disappeared, so he was replaced by Randy Jackson from American Idol. Of course, MJ surprised everyone at the end when it was revealed that he was the man behind the mask. As a result of this tossed-salad approach to a Madrigal feast, an event I was dreading actually became one I wanted everyone to see. It was hilarious! Moreover, it served as a wonderful lesson about how far a little imagination can go. I loved that the chorus teacher kept telling the kids, "Make it relevant... the idea is to show off your talent as singers, not to prove you understand the whole Chamber music concept. That's what our Masterworks concerts are for." Wow! How often do we as adults remember that sometimes the best thing to do is step back and look at how we can make our skills relevant simply by applying them in a different way from what is expected?

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