Have a complaint? York wants to know about it. That’s so the York University Complaints Choir can sing the gripes of York loud and clear during the York in Concert Gala next March, part of York’s 50th annivesary celebrations. It’s what organizer Phillip Silver calls the "fine whines" of York sung in harmony.
With all the positive praise likely to be lavished on York as it celebrates its 50th in 2009, Silver thought a complaints choir would bring a little balance to the festivities, a gentle reminder of some of the less desirable elements.
“It’s a fun way to poke fun at York and to acknowledge some of people’s complaints over the years,” says the York theatre professor and former dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “As a counter-balance to all the good things we are going to be saying in the upcoming months, we want to remind ourselves of the gripes that we’ve all made or heard in the past 50 years.”
Current students, alumni, faculty and staff all have their pet peeves about York and are encouraged to share them. Some of the previous complaints have been resolved over the years, but many still remain fresh in the minds of those who graduated.
Above: The Complaints Choir of Birmingham
“Everyone talks about parking and everyone griped about the tunnels, the useless ramp in front of Ross and about the wind off of Hudson’s Bay in February as you walked along the north side of the fine arts buildings,” says Silver. He acknowledges that the complaints of faculty, staff and students are probably different and he wants to hear from all groups.
In addition, as it is for York’s 50th, Silver wants the gripes to span all five decades. Once the list of complaints is in, York alumnus Bruce Harrott (BA ’74) will pen the lyrics to York’s own complaints song, while York alumnus Glenn Morley (BA ’75) is lined up to compose the music. Harrott is a singer/songwriter and a former manager of Yuk Yuk’s comedy club as well as a former artistic director of the Black Cat Cabaret Theatre.
A composer, conductor and musical director with an extensive background in music for theatrical, television and film media, Morley has been the composer/musical director for more than 80 stage productions in Canada and abroad, including the Stratford, Shaw, Blyth and New York Musical Theater festivals. He has also created the scores for more than 1,000 film and television projects. Morley has received numerous nominations and awards for his work, including two Geminis for his scores for the CTV series The Campbells, and a third Gemini for his score for the CBC documentary Who has Seen W.O.?.
Silver is still working on putting together the actual York University Complaints Choir to sing York’s woes. A number of institutions have their complaints choir renditions posted on the official Complaints Choirs Worldwide Web site. Silver is hoping to post York’s dynamic ditty there as well.
Submit all gripes, whines and complaints in 20 words or less to Annah Nesbith, U50 administration assistant, U50info@yorku.ca. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 10, 2008.