Can You Feel the Love?

A while ago I ran into this video clip. (Forgive me, I can’t remember where. Facebook I imagine.) In the midst of some fairly heavy-duty posts, I thought now might be a good time to share it. The original source for me was, where we are told:

After practice on Mondays, members of the Barbershop Harmony Society in the Toronto suburb of Oakville go for coffee. This past Monday, they decided to serenade other diners with an impromptu performance of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” And the answer is Yes. Yes, we can feel it…

I have so many takeaways from this. First, here is a group of men who invest themselves in rehearsing and performing a capella vocal music. I could stop right there and hand out a medal. They clearly enjoy what it. (I guess they wouldn’t do it otherwise.)

They are poster  children for art making a difference. These are not, presumably, artistes. They are regular guys who find the benefits of music to be deeply meaningful. They have a visceral understanding of the value of art, but I suspect they don’t think of it as “Art.”

They are also exemplars of the merits of participatory art. They don’t sit back and observe. They do. I would give a lot for many, many more people doing art. Is the quality of their work as good as the Metropolitan Opera Chorus? Actually, to begin with, it’s hard to know. The acoustics in Tim Horton’s cafe (and of this recording) do not come up to the standards of Lincoln Center. That said, what would be the point of that question? The more I participate in “quality” debates, the more I despair at the “apples and orangutans” nature of those discussions. Spectator art and participatory art are very different things. And, as I said in a recent post, what is the purpose of quality? (Excellence–To What End?)


Also, while we are having fun, here are two pretty cool videos from SoulPancake:


So, enjoy the clips and think about their lessons for the arts and community engagement.


And finally, Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks (The Trash Project) is starting another project, this time with utility workers, bucket trucks, and the Austin Symphony. They are conducting a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that’s nearly “there.” If this is of interest to you, check it out.



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