The Chamber Singers audtion for a director was fun. We sang “Lamb of God” arranged by F. Melius Christiansen and “O Magnum Mysterium” by de Victoria. The director we were trying out was a very accomplished man, currently directing a church choir but wishing for an opportunity to work on early music, his real love.

There was a bad case of smug going around, though, as #1 son puts it. There were new members since I sang with the group: a couple of people who just sang and otherwise didn’t draw attention to themselves, like me, but also a pair of sisters, large and flamboyant with braying laughs, and a simpering tenor who couldn’t stop bragging about himself. There were jokes made about touring in a neighboring county, slightly more rural than ours, for “people who had never heard music.” This would have seemed disrespectful in any case, but particularly so in a region famous for its traditional music.

There was, in fact, a general air of “aren’t we wonderful and special” that grated quite a bit. I don’t remember this being a feature of previous incarnations of the group, so it may be coming from those three loud people, and if so I could probably ignore it. The director pandered to it a bit, but stopped short of actually denigrating his church choir, so it may not be that he is really going to foster that attitude.

It seems to me idiotic to think that enjoying motets and madrigals makes a person superior to those who enjoy other types of music. The director did say, “Listening to the voices here, I was thinking, ‘Do you ever sing Brahms?'” so he is at least not one of those who thinks that everything after 1650 is pop music.

The singing was very pleasurable. There are some good voices in the group — though not perhaps as good as they think they are. One of the sisters announced that she sang “like an angel,” something that you should allow others to say for you.

I have not yet decided whether to continue with the group. It will depend in part on the time they choose to rehearse. I think I can just go sing and ignore the personalities. Some of the singers I have known for years, and it was a pleasure to see them again.

I have been a bit remiss about posting on the books I am reading for the Summer Reading challenge. The books I have read this week are Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, another light bit of summer fluff, and Rumpole and The Penge Bungalow Murders by John Mortimer. Also light, but I think that the curmudgeonly Old Bailey hack Horace Rumpole is among the lasting characters of British fiction. If you have read any of Mortimer’s stuff, you will remember the Penge Bungalow Murders, regularly tossed out by Rumpole as evidence of his courtroom abilities. His listeners regularly run off to escape hearing about it, too.

Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver used to refer to her first case (the Poisoned Caterpillars case), though in a decorous rather than a bombastic way, and Wentworth never wrote it. I had always wanted to know the details. And of course I am thankful to Mortimer for revealing at last the details of the Penge Bungalow Murders, not to mention how it was that he came to marry She Who Must Be Obeyed.

I am currently reading Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, and Robert Barnard’s The Mistress of Alderly. Tan’s book is a collection of autobiographical essays, enjoyable but of course depressing, so I am alternating with Barnard’s novel. Barnard is always good, but his earlier books are so filled with biting wit that I tend to be a little disappointed in his more sober novels, of which this is one.

Perhaps I will search out another fluffy beach book for the weekend. If only to ward off any hint of cultural snobbery