Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A bone to pick with Bob Bob Batastini's column in the Winter 2004 issue of GIA Quarterly left me a bit sour. "Regrettably small choirs" titles an editorial that suggests "small choirs often just don't sound good." Admittedly, Bob makes good points about appearances (a small choir in a big parish doesn't look good) and about amateurs finding (musical) safety in numbers. He makes a great suggestion that choir directors will do better to recruit recruiters rather than singers. However, I can't abide by the notion that bigger is necessarily better. In the best of times, I've been able to field a choir at every parish Mass but the early Sunday one. Unlike BMMD's (Big Mass Music Directors), I've always felt a priority to ensure good music at all the Masses, not just the best-attended one. So I'm not ashamed to take a noon Mass or an early morning Mass under my wing. Often that means choirs sized from a handful to about 20. And I've found that even a few good non-pros can make a terrific sound. I don't think that our parish's 9am ensemble of 14 is necessarily better than a single cantor or two, nor worse than my children's choir of 22 or the big parish choir of 30-plus. I think Bob is trying to encourage quality music ministry. And while numbers can be an important factor there, it's not the guiding force of my music ministry. Instead of "regrettably small choirs," I can get on board with better hopes for "regrettably poor choirs."

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