State of the Union (1966)
January 13, 1966
Last night the President reported on the State of the Union. His message was realistic, with a measured balance of profound concern and determination to do “what we must”.
I report here on the State of the Eight as we approach a February 1966 sixteenth anniversary. It will also be realistic, despite the lingering glow of the Gala 15th. The memory of the Abernethy master-piece stays my tongue and prompts written communication.
Our “state”? Weakened. Conflicting demands — social, family, professional, political, extra-curricular — have increased to a point of serious interference with the Wednesday night ritual. Perhaps some slight boredom or fatigue also lowers the thrust to attendance. A lack of initiative in arranging performances deprives us of this important incentive to maintain even a modest musical standard.
But our “state” remains basically sound. Sixteen years of singing, humor and weekly fellowship . . . that’s a good word. A deep reluctance to write finis. A recurring feeling of satisfaction at the good sound we make when we do convene in sufficient number and concentration. A variety of new music which is enjoyable and within our competence. A need for the particular kind of relaxation which a good Augmented Eight rehearsal cum “business session” represents.
All of you could add items to the balance sheet on both sides. But you get the idea.
I write you in these terms not from some “holier than thou” glass house. All of the problems noted apply in some degree to your somewhat worn out “whip”. I also feel the plus factors keenly. On balance I am willing to resume. But it is simply not possible to operate at the level of uncertainty of the past few months. We must choose one of the following courses: (1) Fold the tent now with a toast and a small Sixteenth Anniversary soiree and agree to yearly reunions or semi-annual ones (the mountains and a Spring dinner?); or (2) Take another crack at a Seventeenth Year and decide on what basis, i.e., weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions.
I would make only one demand if we opt for continuation, to wit: that the level of commitment be raised ensuring attendance at least fifty percent of the time if weekly rehearsals are held, seventy-five percent if bi-weekly and, with only rare exception, 100 percent if monthly. Recognizing that a greater effort is now required to make a place for the Augmented Eight in our lives, if we decide to do so, arrive at the appointed hour and place to find no tenors, or one bass who wasn’t there for a month and knows no new music, we must wonder whether the effort is worthy. Needless to say, it is also vital to notify the commo center of planned absence well in advance.
This is not the place to elaborate on all the familiar procedures, possible penalties, sundry techniques for making our little ensemble more efficient (in the bureaucratic sense). What I am asking is simply . . . do you want to keep the Augmented going or not; if so, we had better all get on with it.
If most of you do (and will) while some of you do not (or cannot), it is entirely feasible to be less augmented. But we must know where we stand!
Return the bottom half of this sheet and tell me. Either send it to 3248 Rittenhouse St., NW, or bring it there next Wednesday, January 19th at 8:45 PM sharp.
Steadfastly . . .
Willie the worn out Whip [Bill Koplowitz]
/__/ We can’t quit now; one more try EVERY Wednesday and I WILL be there with few exceptions.
/__/ We can’t quit, but let’s face it, we have to slow down to every other Wednesday; I CAN and WILL be there.
/__/ We can’t REALLY quit, but a monthly is all we can muster and I WILL muster monthly mister. I’ve got a better idea.
Signed (blood only please)