Highest Of Horses, Littlest Of Ponies

*Not* "Good Job I Kept My Turntable" (or any other)

>Two community choirs in Tottenham? What’s going on?

>Hmm – good question. I am prevented from saying all that I would like to say, but let’s start with quotes from each of their Web sites (so we can assume these are official statements):

Tottenham Community Choir was established in 2009 to provide an informal and enjoyable outlet for local people in North London to meet up, sing, and have fun. The choir was set up after being given the ‘Making The Difference’ grant from Haringey Council.
The New Tottenham Singers was founded in November 2010, by former members of Tottenham Community Choir who were unhappy that the Tottenham Community Choir Committee had decided that they no longer desired the services of (I won’t name names) as Musical Director.

You could say it was slightly sour grapes for the ‘new’ choir to decide to rehearse at exactly the same time as the ‘old’ choir (7.30-9.30 pm on Tuesday) and barely 200 yards away but I couldn’t possibly comment on that – except that I do think it’s a pity that local singers are forced to choose, and can’t sing with both if they want to.

So why the schism, what happened?

Going back a bit: in 2008 a group of local residents (led primarily by one woman) got together to plan and implement a vision of a community choir for local residents in and around South Tottenham. They formed a steering group that included a local headmaster and a drama teacher, and then recruited a charismatic and talented local resident to lead the singing as choirmaster. (At some point the term ‘Musical Director’ was coined, this may have been a mistake…?)

In summer 2009 the Tottenham Community Choir had its first rehearsal and attracted a varied group of locals. Some stayed, happy with what they found, and some left – one assumes because they weren’t so happy – but on the whole people enjoyed it and the singing was good. The steering group resigned to be replaced by an elected committee who took on the mantle of overseeing and bringing to life the original vision.

And then the disagreements started – primarily over the role of the MD with respect to the choir and the committee. The committee felt that they were ‘in charge’, and that the MD ought to take the lead from them – or at the very least consult with them with regard to their plans. The MD felt that, on the contrary, the choir belonged to the MD and the committee was there to serve the MD.

And therein lies the crux of the matter. The MD refused to consult with, or be guided by, the committee, or to adhere to the job description and personal profile that had been drawn up months earlier. The committee was increasingly unhappy about the musical direction and the lack of communication fromthe MD, and ultimately the conflict came to a head and – despite bending over backwards to try to work with the MD – it was clear that the committee and the MD could no longer work together (the MD apparently saw this as a good thing).

So the committee “decided that they no longer desired the services of” the MD. And the MD was *not* happy about this.

More to come…