I have written to the MD of The New Tottenham Singers asking that he (or his Webmaster) remove all references to Tottenham Community Choir and all copied content from his site, also to invite him to reconsider their repertoire so that it no longer contains material that was chosen for, and had previously been performed by, TCC.
I await his response.
(Later addition): it seems that most of the ‘copied’ content, and the defamatory comments, have been removed from the NTS site. I thank them for that.
>This is my blog, mine and mine alone. No-one else has any say in what I write, no-one else sees it until I hit ‘Publish’. If there is a conflict of interest between anything I may put on this blog and any voluntary (or other) position that I may hold in the community or elsewhere, then that is my responsibility alone and – if the conflict is irreconcilable – may require me to reconsider that community position.
It is in the nature of blogs that they are spontaneous, opinionated and personal, and I have every intention of continuing to say whatever what I wish on this and any other blogs that I am responsible for – and that includes subjective criticism (= personal opinion) on any films, tv programmes, books, records or choirs – or people – that I may wish to comment upon. I do so advisedly, and taking full responsibility for anything I may write.
Some time ago a team that I am currently a member of signed a legally binding agreement with a 3rd party, and the agreement included an undertaking that they would not make defamatory comments about that party. I was not a member of that team at the time, and I was not – and am not – a signatory to that agreement. As I understand it, one of the clauses in that agreement was that it was not to be discussed with non-signatories and as a result I do not know the details – it therefore seems absurd to suggest that I am in some way bound, by association, by it or its terms. Nevertheless the person that I ‘criticised’ took it upon themselves to contact a conciliatory service and solicitor and threaten legal action against the team.
Given that the ‘agreement’ does not extend to me (this has since been confirmed to me by a solicitor who was involved in drawing up the agreement), I intend to continue blogging as before and, while I have no wish to be unpleasant or defamatory, I reserve the right to say whatever the heck I wish on any of my personal blogs within the bounds of decency and legality. It is an unavoidable aspect of the performance/entertainment industry that one gets reviews, both formal and informal, and I for one have certainly had my fair share of negative ones. An artist who is confident in their work should not feel threatened or undermined by criticism – one simply accepts or ignores it.
I removed (deleted – not retracted) my post of 11th June as a personal favour to my ‘team leader’, who was being threatened with legal action despite it having nothing whatsoever to do with them. But I stand by every word that I wrote and, given the behaviour of the aforementioned third party with regard to it, I have half a mind to rewrite it and republish it. I have already accepted (and acknowledged to that person, in a private email) that it was written in haste and not subject to my usual editing process, and a simple “whoah, steady on, could you tone it down a bit” from that person would have worked wonders – the fact that he chose to threaten legal action, rather than contact me directly (yes, he has my email address and phone number) is perhaps the worst bit about this.
I’ll be back – and if said person does anything else to annoy me then I’ll talk about them again.
Seems I upset somebody and, rather than simply ask me to remove or reword my post they threatened legal action. Not a hope in hell since I ain’t done nuffink wrong – apparently they think I am censored by an agreement that I didn’t sign and don’t know anything about. But a friend of mine was dragged into it – someone who has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my blogging – and at their request I removed the entire thing.
Buy me a drink some time and I may tell all.
In the meantime I’m off to sing in the glorious Tottenham Community Choir.
We had our first rehearsal after the half term break last night (also the first rehearsal since Chloe’s wedding – hi Mrs Jacobsberg!), and what an evening it was. Unfortunately Nick wasn’t able to be with us (last minute rehearsal for a gig at the Albert Hall – spose thats a good reason), but fortunately Simon Sharp was able to recommend a colleague who stepped in at short notice.
Simona Budd had nothing to prove and nothing to lose, she took us by the scruff of the neck and got one of our best rehearsals for ages out of us. Faure’s ‘Cantique De Jean Racine’ and the choral arrangement of ‘What A Wonderful World’ have long been personal favourites of mine (choir-wise, at least) and we *soared*. Bloomin’ grand, Mary Poppins.
We also had 7 or 8 new members last night (though, sadly, we were missing a few key regulars) so things are looking good for Tottenham Community Choir summer term.
Onwards and, indeed, upwards.
Used to be the first day of a new half term was to be dreaded but tonight is the first day of a new half term for Tottenham Community Choir with new songs, new people and a new – dunno what. Why not come along and find out?
This Tuesday (7th June) we (Tottenham Community Choir) start a new half term, and we’re going to be revisiting some old material to see which songs we want to keep in our repertoire and which we can lose. It’s been a difficult few months in the interregnum, with each of our stand-in MDs having their own thoughts and ideas about repertoire and consequently several new songs that we began learning but never finished.
Understandably, Nick’s first priority upon joining us was to prepare the material for Chloe’s wedding – this is now over and we have some great songs in our core repertoire. But now we need to expand that repertoire, and so we’re going to be learning some new songs (including several suggested by the choir members) and bringing others back that we haven’t done for a while. Some of our early material we are unable to perform, some we don’t want to perform, but some could – and should – come back.
Please check out web site http://www.tottenhamcommunitychoir.com to see some of the songs that we’ve sung in the past, and please come along and join us to find out what exciting plans we have for the future.
Full steam ahead for the winter concert!
>Nice comment, anonymous. Pity you didn’t share your name with us. Live and let live, indeed. I will do my best to keep to myself some of the things I would like to be able to share, such as why I resigned from the committee last summer, why I left the choir last autumn, and why I am now back with both – water under the bridge and all that.
But the key phrase in your comment (is it a quote? I confess I’m not as familiar with Shakespeare as I perhaps ought to be, and Google doesn’t seem to be able to pull up your source. If it’s original, it’s rather good – expose yourself, dammit!) is ‘friendly rivalry between’. Ah, I wish it were.
I shall confine this post to an accusation of wilful plagiarism and damned unfairness. Take a peek at New Tottenham Singers’ web site and view the source code in your browser. The ‘keywords’ meta tag (this is stuff that doesn’t appear on the actual page but that old-fashioned search engines can read and use to index a page) contains the exact text:
“not the Tottenham Community Choir but arguably the best community choir in Tottenham, better sound, skilled and experienced musicians running a choir, having heard TCC’s rehearsal recordings (best comedy on the net) very glad to be the other Tottenham Choir”.
Is that really ‘friendly rivalry’?
When I redesigned our web site a few months ago we (the committee) had a brainstorm to come up with a bunch of words that we thought described our choir and that people might use when using a search engine on the web. Some of the ideas were serious, some tongue-in-cheek, but I put the results in a meta tag on our web site. Within a week the *exact same set of key words* appeared in a meta tag on the NTS web site. And I was peeved. Their web master also lifted other pieces of text – my text – from our site to use on theirs, things like “Why not come along and sing along? Alternatively, browse the site for more information” which I had come up with as a phrase to put on our web site, and which is now also on their web site in the exact same wording.
Some months ago, on a Tuesday, I sent out a tweet on behalf of TCC that said something like “Live in Haringey (Seven Sisters / Turnpike Lane)? Doing nothing tonight? Fancy a singsong? See…” and a link to our web site. Within an hour a tweet arrived from the other choir that said “Live in Haringey (Seven Sisters / Turnpike Lane)? Doing nothing tonight? Fancy a singsong? See…” and a link to *their* web site. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that but this is plagiarism and theft to my mind. It may be pure coincidence that their latest poster is in the same colour scheme (blue-grey and mauve) as our web site.
They have also chosen to put the phrase ‘tottenham community choir’ in their head section and scattered throughout their site in the body text, and have taken to calling themselves “tottenham’s community choir”. This means that anyone searching for us by name would find links to their site, and – until I created this blog – anyone searching for both names (to find out what’s going on) would only find references to them and their site (since we didn’t mention them anywhere on our site – though we do now, in a footer that simply says we’re not them).
As for the other anonymous comment about changing our rehearsal day – well, we could, but… we were here first, dammit! And I think it behoves the newcomer to demonstrate that they intend no more than ‘a friendly rivalry’ first – and choosing a different day or time to rehearse, thereby allowing people to join both choirs if they wished, would have been a good start.
Enough for now.
>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…
>Great rehearsal last week with new members and a new song learned from scratch
All welcome this Tuesday 7.30-9.30 and then afterwards on the pub – see http://www.tottenhamcommunitychoir.com for more details