Another Face of Chor Leoni

Perhaps you know where we are and what we’re doing this final long weekend. In case not ..

We’re now in Gorizia, a lovely town shared by Italy and Slovenia, attending the 51st annual Choral Competition Seghizzi. We’re one of 16 choirs participating, the others from Italy, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Russia, Croatia, Turkey, Indonesia and Colombia. It’s a disparate bunch, ranging from a quartet of 4 women (from Rome) to a mixed choir of more than 50-60 (from Livorno). Chor Leoni is one of two male choirs, the other being an Italian group of 20, with an average age (at least in appearance) of about one-half ours. There are seven competitive categories in all, of which CL is competing in five: nineteenth century, twentieth century, folk, pop and spirituals. Today, the 13th, we completed one category (twentieth century), tomorrow we tackle three, and finish Sunday morning competing in the nineteenth century category. I believe we are one of only two choirs participating in so many.

I’m finding it fascinating and incredibly instructive being a member of the choir at this stage of its tour. We are, as the title of this blog suggests, revealing a new face … or, at least, a face we’ve not shown for some time. It’s the lean and hungry look of a competitor. Diane, Erick and members of the choir are working together intensively, and amazingly cooperatively, to hone our sound to its sharpest potential. A lot of repetitive work, many last-minute tweaks … all to the end of being the best choir, not only in each category, but overall … and, in the words of our esteemed publicist, “taking no prisoners.” I think it’s fair to say that, while we routinely work on the assumption that we are among the very best …indeed we define ourselves as such in our mission statement … we sometimes lose sight of that goal. Generally speaking, Chor Leoni’s strength has resided not so much in the perfection of its sound, but in the ability of the men to deliver a fine sound to diverse audiences, to draw people into our embrace, move them, entertain them make them laugh, cry and love. Here in Gorizia it would seem that our mission is quite different: we are seeking to convince a panel of six judges that we know our music absolutely cold and are able to deliver it perfectly.

What particularly fascinates me, however, is that, while Chor Leoni assumes this competitive face, it seems constitutionally incapable of shedding its others, those that endear the choir to its audiences. Thus, while we seek perfection and mount the stage with a lean and hungry air, we simply cannot help from being our normal selves, as well … moving, entertaining, reaching out beyond the judges, as it were, to the larger audience. I suppose we’ll never know whether this abiding spirit of CL elevates or lowers our ranking in the eyes of the judges. No matter. It is what we are and will continue to be.

We are all, generally, in good health. Weather’s not too bad. Accommodations great. Food is superb. We continue to get along well with each. We miss you and wish you were with us.

Pete Chamberlain, first tenor

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