PRATIE PLACE

Thursday, December 12, 2013

About creating the Durham-Chapel Hill Complaints Choir (part one)

2010 Durham Chapel Hill Complaints ChoirTrue to my motto "I Can't Keep Up," I didn't hear of Complaints Choirs until 2010 - the movement began five years earlier when in 2005 a couple living in Helsinki (Tellervo Kalleinen and her husband Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen) were complaining about the cold. Tellervo said: in Finnish Valituskuoro means "Complaints Choir" and is used in situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Eureka! They started a movement! Since then there have been choirs created around the world.

It's an odd project. You gather a bunch of strangers together, collate their complaints about the universe (no matter how petty or overwhelming) set them to music, rehearse the long-form song that is the end product, and perform it in several locations. Then it's all over.

The minute I heard of this I decided to have a complaints choir here in the Durham/Chapel Hill area. It would have been impossible to do it without local pianist, composer and arranger Glenn Mehrbach whom I wheedled into joining me. Our performances took place on May 2, 2010 - then we disbanded. Here's the video. I wrote the short prologue and Glenn wrote the rest. He did a fabulous job, it's very catchy.



The Helsinki Complaints Choir is one of my favorites.

From a one-hour Complaints Choir documentary: "What are you complaining about? This is the question two Finnish artists have asked in all four corners of the world in documentary director Ada Bligaard Søby's docu-musical. Their aim is not to pour salt in the wounds of the world's grumpy complainers, but to let everyone vent their dissatisfaction about everything from parking fines to climate change in a liberating chorus of whining harmonies."

Here's the The Chicago Complaints Choir

Continued: Part Two

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