It’s everywhere! People all over the country are covertly organizing and launching themselves on unsuspecting food courts in the name of holiday cheer. But…is it cheerful? or is it weird?
After watching, in awe, as the participants in the Nov 13 viral you tube video sang a glorious rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, I was cheered. They had sung the chorus immaculately from memory. Obviously a professional ensemble with top notch talent.
I got an email a few weeks later to join singers from the KC area at Crown Center for the same sort of stunt. I haven’t been feeling well, so I didn’t go but 450 other singers did. Armed with their scores they milled about the food court in anticipation. It was broadcast on all of the local networks and even garnered an interview on…dare I say it…..NPR!
So…is this musical flash mobbing a good thing or glorified busking? Well, the singers aren’t asking for money…so it isn’t busking from that perspective. However, most malls, at this time of the year, organize their musical entertainment. They have stages with legitimate lighting, festooned with garland. An inconsiderate flash mob could possibly destroy the well laid out plans of mall events organizers. But….if the flash mob does too much ground work, reserving the space ahead of time and making other arrangements, then it isn’t really a spontaneous event, is it? It would be sanctioned caroling and no longer a deliciously subversive act of musical merriment.
The members of the KC flash mob did an amazing thing. They mobilized 450 people to come to a shopping mall at Christmas and that has to be good for the economy. Unfortunately for the poor people in the food court, they were unwittingly forced to listen to a haphazard chorus of eager and enthusiastic church ladies who had little respect for dynamics. It was loud. There also wasn’t much of an element of surprise. Passer by’s knew something was up. The only positive was…the chorus only lasts a few minutes then it’s over. Everyone goes back to their normal lives. The organizer was pressured to continue singing carols by members of the flash mob but she made a good call. They were there, uninvited, and they need to respect the space for other scheduled performers. Given an inch, it is better not to take a mile.
Imagine a Holiday season where every five minutes a noisy flash mob descends on shoppers. Food courts would be full of people “waiting to go on.” Maybe they would overlap. There are no formal flash mob rules or codes of conduct. The country music choir would sing carols next to the classical singers who would have to arrange themselves around Miss Donna’s dancing school of twirling toddlers. How uncomfortable.
But…what if the chorus’ were sponsored by shops in the mall to stroll around singing carol parodied jingles, just like on the TJ MAXX/Marshalls commercial? If they were auditioned and well rehearsed, that might actually work to lure people into stores! Give those unemployed singers some extra cash and discounts!
My personal opinion. As cute as the flash mobs are to watch on you tube, I hope its just a short lived fad. I would hate to see the holiday season co-opted by renegade church ladies armed with scores of Messiah.