Fidelity To The Score

Fidelity to the Score comprises 25% of the final score in all competitions organized by Interkultur, including the World Choir Games, which I have conducted at in both 2012 and 2014.

What does that mean? I don’t really have any idea.

I have written before about musical terroir, and I will go further.

A tempo can be profoundly affected by the space you are performing in; should a choir be judged for altering from the tempo marking?

Renaissance music often doesn’t contain dynamics or articulations; how are the judges to decide whether the choir’s interpretation is faithful?

If I make a solo into a tutti because it works better musically for my choir, am I being unfaithful to the score? How about if an a cappella piece sits better in Eb than E?

Fidelity to the score sounds like an objective, unbiased method of adjudicating a choir; indeed, it is not. It relies on the biases of the judges and the conductor, and the overlap between the two.

It is appropriate to maintain this criterion or similar in rating choirs’ performances, but it is not appropriate to believe that it offers an unvarnished look at choirs that is independent of the judges’ own opinions.

In competition, we do need to give judges the scaffolding to judge choirs effectively; but all judging is subjective and defining criteria to make it sound not so is a mistake.