Monday, January 3, 2011

Gramophone/Quigley/Whitacre ChoralNet threads

An interesting development occurred recently, a bit of a tussle 'twixt Patrick Dupre Quigley of Seraphic Fire fame and composer Eric Whitacre in regard to an article Whitacre wrote for Gramophone magazine. There were a few misunderstandings on Patrick's part about the title (apparently he did not know that Eric had not written or approved the title "Composer Eric Whitacre on Why British Choirs are Best") and what Eric was trying to achieve in the article. I do think Gramophone was sloppy in how it presented the headline/article, but hey, that's what most magazines do- they rarely step back and try to imagine how various readers will take in what they publish (some have felt that Eric should have foreseen this). So I thought I would try to recap this thing- not to titillate us all over any bad blood between the two cornerstones of the thing, but mostly because of the, at times, inflamed responses on Choralnet.

How do I feel about all of this? I don't think ANY country's choirs are "the best", and especially these days since we are finding so many new opportunities to share what we do via ACDA, Interkultur and the like, why should we have any desire to turn our art into a competition? When I compose I am not in competition with any other composers. I don't don battle gear when I sit down to write and I am thrilled when I hear a new piece by my contemporaries that really is a winner. I have to hearken back to Aidan (my funny and also wise seven year old) always emphatically saying when he was three or four "Daddy, everybody's different", which he would interpolate quite often when he did something slightly different that the way I wanted him to do it! I'm not saying we have to always be super polite and never enter a discussion or argument, but let's always have some manners about it. I do think it was interesting to see how impassioned people got over the various things being said in the Choralet thread even when it got off track into other areas - for that we can be thankful, as it shows that there is plenty of passion out there about what we do.

Here is a link to Whitacre's Gramophone article:

Here is Quigley's response via his blog (which also now contains some great, well thought out responses):

And here is a link to all the Choralnet posts, which are all over the map, but quite interesting to read:

And here is Whitacre's blog response in which he tried to calm matters down. I'm not sure he truly succeeds, some people have taken exception to his response, and here's why: Some of the problems to begin with were over the title "Eric Whitacre on why British Choirs are Best"-- now his blog title "A Tempest in a Teacup" seems to patronize the strong feelings this has all stirred up- to him it may seem a tempest in a teacup but things sure appear bigger than a teacup in the ChoralNet discussions!

Happy Reading and a Happy New Year!


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