THE COMPLAINT CHOIR OF PHILADELPHIA
Beginning in late summer of 2008, we sent volunteer canvassers out into Philadelphia neighborhoods to collect complaints. With our custom designed uniform we hit the streets and asked people, "What's wrong?" Responses were mixed to both the question and the project. Canvassers went around Center City, Old City, West Philly and Art Museum area. We also asked people if they wanted to join the choir.
We scheduled a workshop for everyone who wanted to be in the choir to meet and eat. We broke up into four groups, led by volunteer Complaint Captains. Each group had fifteen minutes to use the collected complaints to put together a song using the original music our composer, Evan Solot had written for us. He led each group as they presented their version of the song.
Evan Solot and Shelley Spector worked on the final draft of the song. We scheduled three rehearsals for the choir. The first week about forty singers showed up. Word got out about the choir and every week it grew larger. (Except when the Phillies were in the World Series)
By our first performance, the choir membership was about seventy people. We sang in the center of Rittenhouse Square, we sang outside a mall and performed two more times that day, walking from one concert to the next. We sang in Love Park. We sang in the train station. Our stage debut at the Painted Bride Art Center was also our final performance. The audience wanted more. Since we only have one song, we sang it twice.
Organized by First Person Arts and SPECTORProjects
Composed and Conducted by Evan Solot
The Philadelphia Complaint Choir are Amy Aeschliman, Andrea Alessi, Anotnis Asprakis, Karen Bacot, C. Joseph Barber, Sam Belkowitz, Jessie Bennett, Bobbi Block, Jane Brooks, Andrew Bukowski, Donald Carter, Kayla Childs, Amy Childs, Nikiah Childs, Sharon Cole, Mark Dilks, Gianni Donati, Kate Donohue, Tasha Doremus, Alice Edgerton, Erich Eichenseher, Neomie Eliezer, Patricia Flis, Kim Florio, Terry Fox, Anne, Fredrickson, Carol A. Fritz, Mary Ann Geir, Elissa Goldberg, Jodi Gross, Dan Hajdo, Leah Hallora, Pier Hart, Girard Hemminger, Ana B. Hernandez, Jesse Hochstadt, Gloria Hoffman, Ross Hoffman, Ariel Holyst, Alexandra Jones, Jared Joseph, Victoria Karkov, Lisa Kolibabek, Talman Koots, Robert H. Lazzell, Susan M.Lin, Adrianna Lopez-Villarreal, Amy Malissa, Sarah McEneaney, Candace McKinley, Lisa Miccolis, Laura Miller, Maria Moller, Katonya Mosley, Beth Nicewonger Pannell, Yorgo Papadakis, Barbara Parmet, Scott Pryor, Tiana Pyer-Pereira, Zoey Reese, A.M. Ruse, Jeff Sayers, Laurel Schwass-Drew, Shelley Spector, Jamie Singer, Tyler Solomon, Judith Stein, Jonathan Stein, Pamela Szell, Ryan Tennis, Gray Tennis, Charles Thomas, Phillip Thomas, JJ Tiziou, Margaret Tobin, Jay Tortona, Derek Van der Tek, Dexter Vilar, Adlan Waksman, Bella Weil Saltzer, Jennifer Yuan, Victoria Zajac
Video by Cecelia Smith, Photo by Mark Stehle
First Person Arts is a nonprofit organization and producer of the annual First Person Festival and other programs that tap into the power of personal stories and speak to diverse audiences, including people whose voices are not often heard. First Person Arts is guided by the belief that the sharing of personal experience is a powerful way for people to celebrate uniqueness, bridge differences, and find common ground. For more information, please visit www.firstpersonarts.org.
SPECTORProjects is the work of Shelley Spector, a Philadelphia artist, curator and teacher. Visit www.spectorprojects.com for more information.