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Paul Schmutzler has posted a very interesting review of my Looking Up concert over on his blog. I enjoyed reading it though it is a mixed bag of compliments and criticisms.
You might wonder about my reaction to the criticisms such as the overall volume level of the music as well as some of the styles I did. In general, I accept them as reality because perception IS reality. There were probably many people who would agree with him on all of them.
I am not surprised but that is not to say I would do it differently. For example, the overall concert volume was intentional though we probably could have improved the mix itself. I wanted the sound to be aggressive and to match the energy of the lighting. This was not a classical concert by any means and I wanted people engaged. The truth is I expected some people to think it was too loud. In fact, my experience tells me that if no one is complaining about the volume, it is not loud enough! In other words, you have to shoot for a healthy balance between the extremes and accept that not everyone will be pleased.
Interestingly, I did not focus much on the house mix because as I wrote here, there were two other mixes that were more important (recording and monitor). But when I woke up on the morning of the concert, my first call was to my producer and I told her that the house mix was a huge concern for me. We actually brought in a new consultant that day to help. As it turns out, I probably could and should have done more to get a smoother mix (by mix, I am referring to balance between the different instruments).
Regarding his criticism of music styles, again, I am not surprised but I was not naive enough to think that everyone was going to like every song I did, especially when we were so diverse. In fact, the diversity of the music pretty much guaranteed that everyone was not going to like a song or two. I will say that my decision to go artistic on much of the music was intentional as well. I realize that very little of what I did would ever work in a church.
For example, the “war section” I threw into “God of Heaven” would guarantee any pianist some very strange looks if he/she attempted it in church. What we did to “I Will Arise” was artistic and outside the norm too. And the band’s movement away from the melody on many of the other songs created some challenges both to performance and paradigms. As an example, for some reason, emphasizing melody is often elevated (wrongly I think) to a spiritual level in conservative church music.
That being said, I did what I felt I should do stylistically and I am, after all, a performing artist. As an artist, I have little interest in generating arrangements of hymns that sound pretty much like most other arrangements of hymns. And here is another aspect to being an artist: I feel a compulsion to lead and influence rather than just react to the pressures of conformity.
But again, Paul’s criticisms are no doubt shared by many others, and I accept that. I learned much from listening to him. And I very much appreciate his thorough review as well as the fact that he drove all the way from Knoxville to be there.
There is one thing I most appreciate though about that review. In spite of the fact that Paul clearly disagreed with many things, there are some things you never heard him say. He never claimed to be the authority on what was right and he never claimed that I was wrong. We will all disagree on preferences and styles. But let’s do it like he did.
If you want to hear the podcast he referenced of an interview with me earlier in the week, you can listen here.
And by the way, his photography was outstanding. Make sure and check out his album of the event here.