No “Good News”

We took ourselves off on a small adventure last evening, and I came out of it with mixed emotions. One of our favorite Christmas season activities is taking in a live concert. Hands down favorite has always been my favorite Christian artist, Steve Green. He presents a beautiful concert anytime, but his Christmas presentations are extra special – probably just because it’s Christmas. 😉 It’s an evening to step away from the bustle and reset our hearts and minds to more God centered holiday, and I always look forward to these evenings.

Sadly, this year Steve isn’t in our area, but I did hear that another Christian artist, Sandi Patty, was giving a concert within driving distance. I have to confess that although I’ve known her name for many years, I’m not really familiar with much else about her other than that she is very popular. DH and I decided to buy tickets and try her out. We had a lot to discuss on the long drive home!

First, let me say that Sandi Patty is obviously a very talented musician. I would not even think to argue that point. She put on a very good performance, sharing a lot of well sung Christmas music, all of which was very enjoyable, and also showed off her “opera voice” and piano playing abilities. However, we both came away from the program feeling somewhat disappointed and a bit empty. Why? Our expectations were for a Christian concert, but the evening’s program contained as much secular music as Christian/traditional carols, and there was no attitude of praise, worship, prayer… no Gospel – no “Good News.” In short, there was nothing to encourage, challenge, support, or build up the faith. It’s odd to have attended such a well programmed and performed event and leave feeling so let down – and I’m sad to have seen a Christian performer make such little use of the stage to glorify God. Perhaps our expectations were wrong. Because the advertising I heard was on Christian radio, I didn’t realize the concert was being presented by the Springfield Arts Council. Perhaps it was non-religious for that reason. I’ve just never been to a generally non-religious concert by a Christian performer, so it really took me by surprise to find nearly as much Santa Claus and mistletoe as Jesus, and an extended story about her daughter’s romance, but not about God’s for us.

One other thing bothered us through the evening. It seemed very much as if the show was extremely star centered. I’m so used to a performer giving of him or herself that this felt backwards to me. The instrumentalists had solo spots that were mere seconds in length – the shortest I’ve ever seen. The Shawnee High School Symphonic Choir sang back up vocals but was mixed too quietly to hear well through most of their portion of the show, though what we did hear was exemplary. Sadly, there was one number in the tradition of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – an extremely bold and energized piece that absolutely demanded the choir should be clapping and swaying to the music – but the students stood like so many statues, while Patty was all over the place with her lead solo. The immobile choir left me totally flat and made Patty’s prancings look a bit odd, and what would have unquestionably been the high point of the concert, in my opinion, saw me just politely clapping at the end, instead of on my feet. There aren’t too many things I love more than being part of great music, and this colored the rest of the evening for me. It’s tough to thrill to live music when the performers are allowed to express all of the enthusiasm of Medieval monks. I couldn’t let go of that deflated feeling, so after the show, I stopped one of the young people to ask how they managed to stay so still while singing such a lively piece of music. Well… It seems that during rehearsals, they did NOT stand still! They enjoyed that piece exactly as they should have. However, they were told that for the concert, they were to remain still. I can only guess who gave that order and why, and although it was the only real artistic blunder of the evening, I think it was a huge one.

So, will I pay to go see Sandi Patty again? No, because I don’t think she offers what I personally am looking for in a concert. Am I sorry I went? No, not really. It wasn’t the mood and atmosphere we were seeking, but it was a pleasant show nonetheless, and definitely not a wasted evening. In fact, considering we started it with supper at Young’s Jersey Dairy, it was actually a right nice time! Thanks, Young’s! 🙂

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