I had a superstar on my hockey team when I was 10. (This was my last year playing hockey.)
Geoff could skate circles around most opponents and handled the puck well. I’m pretty sure he ended up with more goals than the rest of the team-combined. We had a winning season because of his skill. The team knew if we passed to Geoff, we’d likely get an assist.
In sports, it’s very possible for a team to succeed on the shoulders of a single brilliant talent. It’s true in Squirt hockey, but it’s true at the professional levels – Wayne Gretzky comes to mind, as does Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Babe Ruth.
It is not possible for your choir to succeed because of your most skilled singer. Of course it’s lovely to have a fabulous soloist or a rich bass with a low E-Flat.
But the hallmarks of success in choir–intonation, blend, balance, musicality, interpretation–do not require singular brilliance. They require consistent teamwork. They require ensemble.
We are not in the business of searching for the next amazing voice. As amazing as she is, we don’t need Joyce DiDonato in our soprano section to succeed. What we need, and what we should seek to build, is the sense of community within the choir that will allow them to work together to make the best music they can.
A passionate, committed community can achieve far more as a choir than a blasé group with a superstar.