December 4, 2008

If I Were Naming The St. Olaf Christmas Festival

One of the more Christianesque colleges in my town, puts on a big whopping Christmas concert every year. So many people want to see it that, invariably, dozens of eager prospective audience members are trampled to death by even more eager prospective audience members in the crush for tickets.

Joke's on the squished and the squishers though. Turns out, even if you do manage to get in to see this fabled concert, you only get to hear church music!


The very thing they spent most of their childhoods trying so hard to avoid has turned around and pulled them in with a quickness and a sickness. To wit, three-plus hours of slowly-modulating dirges blur forward with nary a kick-drum flourish or guitar solo. The year I saw this massive mass, security dragged me from my seat when I threw my underwear onto the conductor's dais.

I'm not bitter about it though. It was the only sound strategy I could devise to get past the entranced throngs and out the door, and it was all of my underwear - even the old pairs I use to polish furniture. Also, I did have a sneaking suspicion that raising my lighter and shouting for "Radar Love" might have irked some.

You'd think everyone would figure out what they will be subjected to by the concert titles. Here's a sampling of the high-minded appelations of some recent shows:

Love Divine, Illumine Our Darkness
O Come To Us Abide With Us Our Lord Immanuel
Where Peace and Love and Hope Abide
Dawn of Redeeming Grace

All this abiding and luminescence stimulated some thought that this show might draw in more unsuspecting attendees if they were a little more circumspect in their naming. Why not try these concert titles on for size?

1. Bring It / Sing It!
2. The Lowercase T Chronicles
The Larynx Strikes Back
4. Chorgasm
5. One Gym Tour '09
6. Topless 'n Bottomless - No Soprano, No Bass
7. Diaphragmorama
Jesus! H! Christ!
9. Kickin' It Old Old Old Old Old Old School
10. Crushing Melody
11. A Warhol Film For Voice
12. Naptime For Grandpa
13. The Flavorless Desolation Of Divine Love
14. Off With Their Robes!
15. Once More Without Feeling
16. Saw V: The Concert


Unknown said...

17. BC/CE
18. 25 Sonatas: The Advent Calendar for the Ear
19. Michael Bolton Sings
20. Single Serving Christians: Why Do I Only See These People Once A Year?
21. Ron Jeremy Presents: Mistletoe!

Brendon Etter said...


Maybe #21 should be "Missile-toe!"

As for #19, I wish the Olaf Christmas fest were as accessible as Michael Bolton's dreck. It's choir music for choir freaks. I know it's "good" because I've been told so in the same way that wine snobs tell you certain wine is "good".

To the common, unrefined, non-choral-obsessed monkeys like me, we just don't "appreciate" the "proficiency" and "skill" of the various advanced compositions. Like common wine consumers, we simians look at the glass and say - "Hey, that red." or "That's white." or "That's pinkish." or "I'm gonna throw poop at the wine bottle."

I appreciate the skill and talent on display, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Nor do I feel like putting in years to develop my ear to savor that flavor of tune.

The irony is that, despite the large crowds, it's a not a mass for the masses, but rather a mass for the elite masses. That's all well and good, if that's your thing, but it's not mine.

My one experience watching the Christmas fest at Olaf was so uncomfortable and hot and long and dull dull dull. I went when there were just bleacher benches on the sides, and somehow got placed on the bench for very wide senior citizens. I think there were supposed to be 12 people per open-bench bleacher, but we must have used up the allotted slots on the bench after about 9 folks and still had to put 3 more rather broad folks in the personal space of the rest of us. I believe I was also sitting behind someone with the largest back in the world. At 6'4", my legs were near my chest for 3 hours.

Again, I'm glad Olaf has the ability to pull this off every year. It's an amazing event for those who get into it. I fret not about the lack of generally available tickets, however, for, even were they printed in surplus each year and dropped from dirigibles, I would avoid them like the plague that has its own plague.

Anonymous said...

Fun post!

As a former choir member, I really enjoyed singing in it, but I really doubt I would want to sit through it in the audience.

Brendon Etter said...

Yay! A confession extracted by force of my stunning recriminations and polemicistry.

Just kidding. Thank you, Chris.

As I mentioned, I have no doubt that it takes major talent to perform at that level. As one who acts, I try my best to push myself up that ladder of excellence.

I don't understand the painfully subtle gradations of quality in the human voice; so my appreciation lags.

Jim H. said...

22. Division III Football

Brendon Etter said...

Oh Jim, how wry and apt.

Mnmom said...

You completely left out the required Norwegian sweater. With all those old Norwegian sweaters wearing sweaters, it gets a bit stale in there too.

Anonymous said...

Dude, "A Warhol Film For Voice" was going to be the title of my one-man show. Thanks a lot.

Brendon Etter said...

I did neglect the sweat and the sweaters, MnMom. They need a sweater check station outside the doors of the concert. Christopher, I cannot help it if your attorneys had failed to duly secure rights to my ideas. Perhaps you should find a new phalanx of suits to protect your potential creativity.

emcee emdee said...

Chorgasm. That was worth the price of admission.