280 members all sing out of tune.
The New York Times has described joining the Milanese Coro degli Stonati as a way to overcome inhibitions and “warble in public – hopefully, but not necessarily, in tune.”
Elisabetta Povoledo’s article describes how several dozen Milanese “braved Milan’s bone-chilling dampness to do something that many had been told as children they could never do: sing.”
And she describes how the choir leader and teacher, Maestro Maria Teresa Tramontin, mezzo-soprano with the La Verdi symphonic choir, gradually coaxes hesitant members to overcome their shyness and hit the right notes. She tells members they are doing the same vocal exercises used by opera legend Maria Callas, revealed one member, “so now we all feel like Callas.”
Tramontin has led the project since it was launched in 2010. She is convinced that people are tone-deaf only because they have always been told so. But real tone-deafness, she says, is in fact rare.
To teach her choristers the basics of human anatomy and the mechanics of the voice, she brings a homemade model of the respiratory system to classes – and recently encouraged members to visit an exhibition of human corpses in a Milan art gallery, “if that sort of thing doesn’t upset you.”
The La Verdi musical institution is deeply committed to education, reports Povoledo. It also organises an amateur orchestra, a junior orchestra and the children’s choir directed by Tramontin.
Off-key enthusiasts who need to indulge their yen to sing without needing to find a soundproof room to protect their family from the results can consult the website of the Choir for the Tone-Deaf and book an introductory audition.
[Picture: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times]