Something unsavory has been going on in our larger choral group that we sing with lately.
We are a great group of about 55 voices. Strangely enough, out of that nice number, only 5 are tenors (including John-Boy), and out of that 5, only 4 are men (um, also including J-B!). That leaves, of course, one female tenor. Lets call her RF. Imagine, if you will, being the only female tenor in a group of that size. It has taken RF years to become comfortable with herself in this role, and be “one of the guys”. And one of the guys she certainly is. The rest of us have never had a problem with it, and accept her as such with good natured ribbing, but you have to know that it’s always in the back of her mind that she sticks out a little from the rest of the section.
A few weeks ago, Knarf and I had dinner with J-B at his place (ShaMoo was unable to make it), and I asked them to sing “Unchained Melody” to me, which is a song the Basses and Tenors are doing for our concert on Feb 20th. Instead of singing it though, J-B floors us with the announcement that one of the Basses had made the decision to exclude RF on the basis that it was a “Men Only” piece.
RF has never, in the entire history of her involvement with this group as a tenor, been excluded from a piece simply because it’s a “Man’s” part. No one has ever even suggested it until now.
There’s a lot more to the story, but it’s involved, and frankly, you won’t care so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that I was mad. Steam-from-my-ears-mad, in fact, and ready to do battle at our next board meeting, which was the following week. This individual is on the board with me, unfortunately. He is the type who believes he “owns the joint” and has the right to make decisions like this. I beg to differ.
Anyway, I fired off a late-night email to RF when I got home that evening, and had a reply first thing the next morning, in which she asked that I not bring it up – although she was very grateful to know that she has people in her corner and that I was happy to go to bat for her – and that she’d rather let it go. J-B, wise as always, also held me back. Not an easy thing to do once I’ve got something in my head, let me tell you. But I bit my tongue and kept quiet.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. I had a word with our president to let her know exactly what was going down – she wasn’t surprised – and I also had the same conversation with our artistic director. I was extremely happy that she was as shocked as we were about it, and had not been told.
The kicker though, was that Butthead intended to introduce a SECOND piece of music that ALSO excluded RF. He actually thought that it was “OK”, and that she’d understand. Believe it or not, there is no visible brain damage involved here. He’s just that stupid, and completely lacking in social skills.
At this point, J-B stepped in, and essentially put a stop to it with a quiet word, and an amazing amount of class. Totally not what I would have done, since I was ready to go to war, but absolutely the best way to do it, and for that I am extremely impressed by and proud of him. Also thankful that he saved
the hothead me from making it an all-out battle when it didn’t need to be.
It’s not over, by any stretch. Damage has been done, and it will not be forgotten. In times like this, you learn who your friends are, and where people stand. RF knows she has people in her corner, and she’s going to be ok. One thing I’m certain of though; It will never happen again.