The fable is told of two friends who really liked the idea of helping people.  And they both really liked to cook.  And so they came up with a joint idea that they should open a restaurant together and really just make people feel good about life as they ate together in their restaurant.

It was all good til they realized that one had a Chinese Restaurant in mind, and the other had a Mexican Restaurant in mind.  So they compromised and opened a Chexican Restaurant.    It didn’t do very well.  People were just not impressed and too confused by the crazy offerings on the menu.

A similar issue is happening in classical music today.  Historically, 18th century composers (like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mahler) wrote their music envisioning not one but two string sections in the orchestra, one on each side of the group.  The result from the score was that the strings section “ping ponged” back and forth during the score.  The artist probably never thought of it happening any other way.

But into the 21st century, creative conductors are actually NOT separating the violins but placing them together as a unit.  The sound is distinctly different than what the composer imagined.  Some violinists love the new arrangements.  Some violinists are aghast–the historic pieces are being trampled in their minds.  How can you respect Beethoven’s work when you don’t follow what he planned?  Going to the symphony now is much more interesting.  You not only have to consider what you will hear, but how will you “see” it?  Some conductors are traditionalists and replacing the strings in their separate areas.  Others are creative and confess they aren’t finished experimenting yet.  The listener in the audience listens and watches with some amusement and some bewilderment.

Who decides?  Who’s happy?  Who’s not?

I work with pastors trying to bring glory and joy and celebration and enthusiasm into and through a congregation.  Not everybody likes Mexican, not everybody likes Chinese.  And not everybody thinks the violins should be together, nor does everybody want to separate the strings section.