Music Advocacy

John Rutter: The Importance of Choir

March 31, 2015

Listen as composer John Rutter delves deeply into the importance of choir in all aspects of life.  He shares his own love of music with us as he discusses the many places music enters our lives and changes who we are.  Please enjoy these few words of wisdom from one of music’s greatest minds.

For great pieces by composer John Rutter, click here.

John Rutter: The Importance of Choir

Written Transcript

**Anyone using either video or transcripts of the interview must credit it as John Rutter’s words, taken from the video.

Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It’s something that goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community, and our souls. You express, when you sing, your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of those people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony, which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world, when so much of the world is at odds with itself…that just to express, in symbolic terms, what it’s like when human beings are in harmony. That’s a lesson for our times and for all time. I profoundly believe that.

And musical excellence is, of course, at the heart of it. But, even if a choir is not the greatest in the world, the fact that they are meeting together has a social value. It has a communal value. And I always say that a church or a school without a choir is like a body without a soul. We have to have a soul in our lives. And everybody tells me, who has sung in a choir, that they feel better for doing it. That whatever the cares of the day, if they maybe meet after a long day’s school or work, that somehow you leave your troubles at the door. And when you’re sitting there, making music for a couple hours at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters at that moment. And you walk away refreshed. You walk away renewed. And that’s a value that goes just beyond the music itself.

Of course, as a musician, I put the music at the heart of it, but all of these other values just stand out as a beacon. I think our politicians need to take note…my gosh do they ever! [laughs], and our educators, those who decide education budgets, church budgets, just need to remember it’s not a frill. It’s like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us. And choral music must stand as one of the supreme examples of it.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Walter Waddle August 10, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Rutter is one of the world’s greatest composers of choral music…and many other musical forms as well. But what he is saying about singing in a choir brings a much greater message to everyone that would listen with better ears, look with better eyes…and enrich their lives with better hearts. As a choral director myself I consider him to champion the gist of what music can do to heal a broken world.

  • Reply Mabel T Dunn September 30, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Is a deeply beautiful definition of Chorus and it transcendent value. Thank you

  • Reply Una Quinn November 29, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you John for articulating for me as a choral director all of the benefits and joys that choral singing can bring. I have long believed it but my views were always disjointed when attempting to extol the virtues of music making – singing and choral music in particular. Thank you for your clarity.

  • Reply Marty December 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    His (John Rutter) music speaks to my soul….

  • Reply E. Wegner June 24, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Why nations are competing by means of war instead of by means of choirs? There will be no casualty, only beautiful harmony in song and music – God will be glorified, love will be put on pedestal. The result will be eternal peace… WHY…

  • Reply Andi September 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    I think our politicians should be forming choirs. Singing together. Then when different countries need to discuss things, they could all sing together. Way better exercise than killing each other.

  • Reply George Hogan October 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I cannot claim this quote but I do love to live by it. “Change the world one song at a time.”

  • Reply Daniel W. Sass October 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    The Muppets, their creative staff, and their creator/boss, Jim Henson, were/are ALL Choir Singers….as attested to by Henson, before he died.

    And Frank Lloyd Wright had a regular rehearsal session daily with his architectural staffers and family members.

    And then, there were, and are, the Von Trapps! Including a new generation in Portland, OR!

    Congress in Choir……hmmmmm……big men’s contingent, a bit slim on trebles, but………it’d be worth a try! Put the Rehearsal Wing on the White House!!!!

  • Reply catherine Bennett October 9, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Wonderfully articulated and oh so very true.

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