And why is the beer so expensive in town?

Judi, my wife, rehearsed last night for the first time with the Tampa Complaints Choir.

I first experienced the world-wide Complaints Choir phenomenon a year ago when I stumbled upon the Birmingham Complaints Choir video on YouTube. This choir, the first, was organized by two Finnish musicians, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, as a way to convert negative grousing into positive energy.

In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression “Valituskuoro”. It means “Complaints Choir” and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!”

Complaints Choir website

The two gathered a group of ordinary citizens of Birmingham, England, for a workshop on how to approve their city. Compiled into lyrics, the list of complains was made into a choral arrangement and performed by the workshop participants, most of whom sang poorly but with great enthusiasm (view the video below).

Complaint Choirs are so right that the concept spread throughout the world. YouTube has videos from Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Hamburg, each bringing their own particular cultural outlook to the mix.

So when I got an emal about a Tampa Complaints Choir forming, I forwarded it to Judi (who sings regularly in local choruses). If you are near Tampa, Florida, the Choir will perform at 10:20pm Saturday September 15 2007 at the WMNF-88.5FM Birthday Bash at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, the historic district of Tampa.

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