This week I was lucky enough to acquire a ticket for one of the best Christmas events available. I went to the Christmas Concert at St Johns College in Cambridge. This is sung by a collegiate choir of the English Cathedral tradition. The choir consists of 16 scholars who are undergraduates of the college, and 16 boys from the St Johns College school. They broadcast and record, travel extensively, and as The Gentlemen 0f St Johns, sing in a lighter vein, notably at the famous May Ball.
The setting, in St John’s Chapel, resonant with history and tradition, the choir in their red and white robes, and the candle light, makes for a truly Christmas scene.
The evening event was stunning; exceptional, sublime, surprising and humbling.
What I saw was a group of young people at the top of their tree. A team which is able to outperform any other in its field.
How can they do that when there are so many considerations to hold them back?
- it was late and the average age of the (sleepy) choristers is around eleven
- the music was challenging and they sang for 90 minutes
- they sang in four different languages
- the men are university undergraduates, busy with socialising and drinking (and studying?)
- few of them are actually paid
- they were at the end of a week-long tour of near daily concerts that included three days in Denmark
So a group of volunteers with a high staff turnover and no significant financial resources are regularly filling venues of 500 and selling thousands of CD’s.
Passion, Practice and Teamwork.
- The choir is passionate about their singing. You can see it in the performance. They really want to get it right.
- They practice hard. After the event I asked how much. The answer, six days a week, sometimes twice a day and often, with performances in-between. They really dedicate themselves to being the best at what they do.
- Teamwork is essential. They eat together, work together and support each other. There is no doubt that any one of the men and many of the boys could be great individual performers; but they work as a team, selflessly, all the time, every time.
So can business learn anything from a choir? —— I think so, how about you?
PS Thanks to Andrew Nethsingha, the men, boys and organists of St John’s Choir in Cambridge for an unforgettable event. Link to St John’s