Because some felt strong enough to take their kids out of choir over this I wrote this response. It is fairly long so I ask that you reconsider and send your kids tomorrow for the combined rehearsal. If they miss they will not be ready to perform and you may change your mind after you get all the facts. Grab a cup of coffee and get relaxed and then read this:
I would like to clear up the UWP performance questions. I’ll address traveling with the choir another day. Let’s start small. Names in the program… This was a group failure. I asked for parent help to assemble the lists for attendance, Caiman Chorus T-shirts and donations. A few names did not make it onto the lists that were assembled. Why? I don’t know. I must not have made it clear as to what was needed. That list was put into Excel and emailed to me. I took the list which had the non-auditioning kids listed separately and combined them back onto the list. When I selected what I thought was the whole list in Excel I only grabbed what was on my screen and missed A-G. When I put the non-auditioning kids onto the list we then had some from the early letters in the alphabet making it look like a whole list to me. There were at least 13 children’s names left off, mostly kids who were part of the auditioning group. Manipulating lists is one of my big cognitive issues. That is why I asked for help in this area. There was no attempt to exclude anyone, only pilot error on my part and for that I am sorry.
Repertoire: What repertoire is performed at a concert is the director’s prerogative. The pieces that I had planned to do for the May 2 concert were “Still Alive” “Dona Nobis Pacem” and “El Tiburón” There was never any intention to perform the repertoire from January at this concert. A piece of music has its time in the preparation process. The Sollberger pieces were already way past their prime when we performed them at Case on March 25. Compare the YouTube recordings and you will see the difference. On top of that we already performed these pieces for Dr. Kinchen and the Voices of Parkside on the daytime concert we had at Gifford with them in January. “El Tiburon” is a very difficult piece because it is in Spanish, with tricky rhythm and no repeating sections. It is a piece written for our choir by a composer from Eau Claire. It became apparent to me two weeks before the May 2 concert that it would not be ready. I made the difficult contact to the composer to tell her to cancel her travel plans as we were going to hold off on that piece until May 25. I then substituted the Rick Astley piece giving my student teacher the opportunity to teach, choreograph and accompany a piece in the concert. Mr. Kroes and the choir did an excellent job of preparing that song in three 20 minute rehearsals. Had there been no TV audition these would have been the only pieces on the program.
Then came the offer of the TV audition. We were asked to prepare something new. I knew we did not have the rehearsal time to spare for preparing another piece and still have the repertoire for Parkside ready. The Fanshawe Dona Nobis Pacem was a stretch for the kids in a new direction. We crammed like crazy to get that ready in time. So I made the offer for extra rehearsals outside of the regular schedule so that we did not endanger the choir’s ability to perform at UWP. I asked you to choose to participate or not and did not pressure or look down on anyone for their choice. The commitment needed to pull off something as absolutely impossible as what we did had to be complete. It is not at all an exaggeration to say that every minute counted. I finished the arrangement of “Acapella” at 9 AM on the audition day when practice started at 10 AM. If it hadn’t been for Miss McCormick running choreography I would not have gotten the sound system ready. It took 3 ½ hours to set up. To choose the pieces, transcribe and arrange them for the choir, prepare instruments, assemble professional musicians, take care of lighting, choreography, video, uniform issues, the cake reception, Kringle fundraiser, water etc. and to do it in 14 days will probably never be topped. On top of that I was trying to promote the 1st Still Alive video to keep the numbers moving. I was running on an average of 2 hours of sleep a night for two weeks in order to pull this off as there simply were not enough hours in the day.
To expect us to not perform the audition pieces at UWP is less than realistic. All of the kids could have participated fully but some chose not to, plain and simple. The kids who auditioned gave up playing in soccer and baseball games that were scheduled long before our audition came around. They gave up birthday parties and a trip to a Broadway play. They gave up swimming lessons and playtime with friends. If it was my choice your children would have all been in the choir performing right along with the rest of us. But because some of you made the choice that was best for your family, your child was left on the edge of the stage watching what they could have been a part of. I don’t envy you the position you put yourself in by making that choice but it was your choice. I’m sure as a parent you felt the loss for your child 10 times deeper than they did. Kids are used to taking turns. That some sit out while others do is normal in the life of a child. If your kids were upset it was most likely because of the disappointment when they saw what they missed out on. If they expressed a sense of “that’s not fair” remember that it was your choice and you chose as best you could with the needs of your family in mind. You need to deal with your own sense of loss or guilt and not pass that responsibility onto me. I made my own sacrifices to make this work for my child and yours. I may not even have a job next year as I was unable to take the class I needed to get recertified. As for having the kids sit on the edge of the stage, what would you have had me do? I kept them in the hall where I could see that they were safe and where they could get right back up for the combined number with UWP. That anyone could see that as punitive just blows me away.
I also take issue with your assertion that the audition songs were the focus of the concert. “Still Alive” was the focus of the concert. It was for that song that I edited 6 videos on YouTube. It was for that song that the kids have gotten international attention. It is for that song that I have spent every waking hour since May 2 promoting. There were two audition pieces and three pieces for the whole choir. That hardly makes the focus be on the auditioning group. All of the kids did an amazing job. Don’t punish them because of your feelings about this. They will miss out on the final concert and the party. If they are at rehearsal in a few hours then all is ok. Otherwise don’t send them next week.
The one bit of humor I find in this is: If I had any doubt that there would be enough drama for a TV show about our kids, I no longer doubt it.
Please accept these words in the loving cathartic way in which they were intended.