A Complaint Choir, Voicing Displeasure

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For the Complaints Choir of Helsinki, 90 stone-faced men and women sing in unison, chanting one complaint after another. One example: Old forests are cut down and turned into toilet paper, and still the toilets are always out of paper. Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, who started the group with his wife, talks about the choir.


The Complaints Choir of Helsinki - 90 solemn men and women singing in unison, chanting one complaint after another after another. Here they're complaining that old forests are cut down and turned into toilet paper, and still the toilets are always out of paper.

(Soundbite of music)

CHORUS: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

WERTHEIMER: Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen started this group with is wife. He joins us from Helsinki. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. OLIVER KOCHTA-KALLEINEN (Started Complaints Choir of Helsinki): Hello.

WERTHEIMER: Could you tell how this whole thing got started?

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: Yes. We were wondering why people spend so much energy for complaining. And we thought it would be fantastic to transform this energy into something creative, positive. In the Finnish language, there is a word which says (Finnish Spoken), and this means, literally, complaints choir. And then we had the idea, why not take this word and create a choir in which people sing their complaints together?

WERTHEIMER: Where do you get the complaints?

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: We make a flyer and poster and newspaper. And everybody who wants, who has something to complain and has the courage can join the choir. And their complaints are then edited into the song.

WERTHEIMER: Well, could you share some of your favorites with us, though? There must be some that are especially funny to you.

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: There was somebody complaining that her dreams, that the dreams are boring. That was quite good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: I like that. Where does the choir perform?

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: We perform in different places in the city. For example, in the railway station or on the market square in Helsinki or in the harbor.

WERTHEIMER: And I assume you draw a crowd. How does the audience react to hearing these complaints so beautifully sung?

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: A huge group of 90 people in the railway station complaining together, that was something strange. But then, of course, when they got into the song, they started to sing along. And also, in Finland, there is a - once a year, national television makes a prize, which is called the Joy of the Year, and the Complaints Choir was chosen as one of the four candidates for this prize. So we didn't get it in the end, so we will complain about it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KOCHTA-KALLEINEN: Anyway, this tells something, that this was many people understood it for the joyful experience.

WERTHEIMER: Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, thank you very much.


WERTHEIMER: Mr. Kochta-Kalleinen is the founder, with is wife, of the Complaints Choir of Helsinki. The chorus you're hearing here is "It's Not Fair, It's Not Fair, It's Not Fair."

(Soundbite of song, "It's Not Fair, It's Not Fair, It's Not Fair")

CHORUS: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)


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