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Put On Your Cowl, It’s Time To Howl– Hallelujah!

December 19, 2011

Silent monks “singing” the Hallelujah Chorus?? Now there’s a concept!

Take a look, then scroll down for a few reflections on same.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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For me, that’s performance art at its best: funny, joyful, ingenious. And that particular piece also represents one of my personal favorite art forms: the affectionate parody– a kind of homage that takes the original to a new level.

What other lessons might the Silent Monks be teaching us? I can think of at least four:

1. It’s all been done before, but creativity is about finding a new way to look at things— a fresh new variation on a theme.

2. Some of the best art is achieved within constraints or given parameters.

3. Humor has the power to make us stop and really pay attention to something we’ve come to take for granted.

4. A good humorist is always trying to work in an extra gag (the short monk jumping up with her sign got a big laugh).

I wish I knew who created this wonderful piece and worked out all the choreography– I’d like to shake that person’s hand. Unfortunately, despite my best googling efforts, I can only tell you that the piece may have been first performed at Winter Park High School in Florida circa 2006– and I can’t even be sure of that.

It’s been covered by many different schools and organizations. You can find dozens of clips on Youtube. I’ll conclude with a couple of others I enjoyed:

These are probably the most colorful in-concert monks, and they get some extra mileage out of the monk height disparity:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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This last one goes outside the concert setting and features some very creative filmmaking and editing. It also taps the natural exuberance of 5th graders. (The adult “supporting actors” are pure lead– but it seems to work to advantage!)blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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What do you think? Does the performance art add extra joy to the music? Is Handel rolling over in his grave?? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Once Upon A Time At Westminster Cathedral

Oh, No– Abducted By The Cake People!!

Andy Warhol Meets Film Noir: Biff, Bang, Pop!blank vertical space, 32 pixels highfooter for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. robpixaday permalink
    December 19, 2011 1:46 PM

    Still watching these, just had to stop RIGHT NOW and say:
    So fabulous! So funny!
    And your discussion is spot-on. Esp. #2.
    And how musically-nerdy am I, that I was conducting them, helping them lift their cards at the right times, etc.
    Best Post EVER.

    ::runs back to watch the other videos::


    • December 19, 2011 7:50 PM

      Hmm, I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, you, uh… liked the post?? : )

      The thought of you conducting while you watched the monks cowl-howl made me laugh– yet another kind of innovative performance art!

      Thanks, maestro!


  2. robpixaday permalink
    December 19, 2011 4:50 PM

    Wow! Watched all of them! Fantabulousness!

    Handel? Not sure how he’d’ve felt about these. They remind me of bell choirs, if Mad Magazine ever did a “bit” on bell choirs.

    When I first saw your post I thought maybe there was no singing, just the cards, which would’ve been another odd-but-good thing. Over all, the things that made me laugh most were the “ooops” places, the goofy over-compensating-for-lack-of-height places, the under-the-cowl-giggles, etc. So human! So much fun! So unexpected…so perfectly funny.

    Thank you for posting them!!!


    • December 19, 2011 8:03 PM

      I can see the bell choir parallel– they’re sorta ringing signs instead of bells. And yes, the whole concept is reminiscent of those old Mad Magazine satires. I’m suddenly thinking, too, of the late Victor Borge, the pianist who got so many laughs out of classical music.

      And you’re right: the goofy little slip-ups play a big part in one’s enjoyment– wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if it were all– dare I say– letter-perfect… : )

      Thanks again for all your support, Robin!


  3. December 19, 2011 6:50 PM

    hahahahahaahahah…Mark! I really do love and enjoy it! Thanks for sharing these videos!

    I do agree with your points!


    • December 19, 2011 8:23 PM

      So glad you liked them, Inge. Yes, I’m giving all my friends these videos for Christmas. Someone else did all the work, I don’t have to shop, I don’t have to wrap my gifts or mail them, I can just stay home and sit by the fire. Now if that isn’t the true Christmas spirit, I don’t know what is!! : )


  4. Margie permalink
    December 22, 2011 5:19 PM

    Well, a big Hallelujah for you on finding these clips! All three were wonderful – not to mention I now know the words to the song!


    • December 22, 2011 5:35 PM

      Ha! I know exactly what you mean. We need to get more singers to hold up signs. I always wondered why John Fogerty kept saying, “There’s a bathroom on the right!” (Always good to know where the restrooms are, of course.) “There’s a bad moon on the rise” makes more sense. Well, sorta.

      Glad you enjoyed the clips, Margie– cheers! : )


      • robpixaday permalink
        December 22, 2011 7:03 PM

        Hang on. Isn’t that bathroom on the right? LOL!!!!! I thought the same thing for nearly a decade.
        AND last year I found out that Eric Clapton wasn’t singing, “Hey, Love!” all those years.*
        Signs would have been very helpful.

        Victor Borge was a force of nature. Miss him soooo much!!

        * instead of “Layla”


        • December 22, 2011 9:54 PM

          Ha! If we start having the same trouble with instrumentals, we’ll really be in trouble!! : P


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