Friday, July 5, 2013


Now that right there is one of the stupider titles I have composed. Stupider still, is the fact that it took 4 tries to type “stupider.” More on that later. In this instance the 12th man is the audience and is more a metaphor than anything else. Because? The 105th man in a 104-man team would have no meaning to anyone. So, What am I talking about, huh? The audience. Our wonderful, wonderful audience, who come out to listen to whatever-the-hell we're doing that night, day or afternoon.

This is about the size of the Opera venue I played in; it seats 5000 and was always sold out.

I suspect orchestral composers started putting G.P.s (not gps, you gamers) but Grande Pauses in music to take a sort of “audience attendance,” if you will. To see who's paying attention, and who's carving “I ♥ Mikey” on the seat in front of them, who's rustling candy paper and who's talking in class. Here's how it happens. The orchestra is thundering along in about the 3000th measure of some reeeaally boring symphony by Anton Bruckner, and then there's this huge, gaping hole, where it all just stops. You're supposed to hear *cricket, cricket* What we are all treated to is “I FRY MINE IN LARD!” From the nosebleed section, or the cheap seats.

This is frowned upon, unless agreed to by the entire audience. There's always some bald guy or old bat in front, who has a crush on the Concertmaster. Don't do this, unless you're prepared to thumbwrestle during intermission. Oh and dressy t-shirts and flip-flops are required. For the orchestra, too.

I'm already wishing I were dead, because the violas thundering part is 58 pages or tremolo, which is a very fast shaking of the bow on the string on one note; it requires small muscle movement and is okay for short periods, but it do cramp the muscles over time. What Beethoven giveth, Bruckner taketh. Bruckner and Mozart are both giant bags of dicks in my book. So, of course, when we sneak back in, in a pianississimo, I'm trying not to laugh and my Russian stand partner is muttering under her breath, “Nyet, you no look at me...*snort*” and we're off to air-viola playing, while we hiss-laugh.

We were kinda like this, only she wasn't a guy and we didn't play backwards. We got along well, which lots of stand partners don't. Actually, I've had very little trouble with stand partners over the course of my career. But Rita was fun. She came from the Kiev Philharmonic and played boatloads of viola; just an awesome player!

You know you're at a really classy concert when you play the “Star-Spangled Banner” and some goon in the cheap seats yells “Play Ball” before the opera begins. I thought Maestro Coppola was going to climb out of the pit and hunt the guy down and bite him. All 4' 2' and 96 years of him. Man! What a little ferocious tiger! I was very, very careful to always stay on his good side. I've seen him eviscerate violinists with 3 words. People never got fired by him. He just slowly tortured you to death.

Here is Maestro, either praising the 1st violins, or chewing them out, it is hard to tell. He always looks like this. His brother Carmine Coppola, who played flute in Detroit, did too.


Warning: This is the inaugural rehearsal for I can't remember which Puccini Opera and it's rough, for the 1st 22 or 23 seconds. It gets more polished as we go. Typically, we got the music cold and had 3 rehearsals and 3 performances.

I was playing at one concert on a stage where there are several venues, and across the street, Jeff Beck was playing. Some stoner must have gotten his concerts wrong and been really stoned, because at one point during a Brahms symphony I was playing with the orchestra, and natch, wouldn't ya know, a very, very quiet part, dude pops up and yells "Motherfuckin' Jeff Beck rocks, Man!" and then, pops back down. The surprising part is that no one turned a hair. I'd already started my career as a rock-and-roll violist and had heard it all, as had my colleagues.

Be sure and do this at your next Mozart concert, or Bruckner. The orchestra won't mind. The security can be a bitch, though.

Audiences can surprise you, but that's the great thing about live music. You never know what is going to happen. Either on stage or off. I was playing in a small theater in Columbia, South Carolina once. This is where I got locked in the bus and had to crawl through the driver's window with Wolf and concert black, but the strangeness had just begun. That night, sitting in the pit, which was floor level with the audience, there was a couple in completely stunning Klingon makeup and regalia. I kept sneaking peeks at them. They thoroughly enjoyed NYGASP's “Pirates of Penzance.” They came back stage after the show and thanked us in Klingon. Talk about cosplay; impressive and elegant.

ghaH 'ej Duvan, vo' columbia south carolina

So, I never knew what I was heading into when I went on a tour, but I always looked forward to tours. I miss them, but it would be impossible now. So, I share them with you.

Well, Monday can't get here fast enough. I will get the results of my DaTScan and we'll see. I am trying to not get my hopes up, because I know this is an arduous process and can take as long as 6 years to diagnose, but I get tired so easily and have been sleeping for as many as 11 to 14 hours. I'm back on my bipolar meds and so, of course, my tremors are worse and by the end of the day, I'm in pain, particularly in my back and shoulders. We shall see. And of course, I missed Wednesday's check in. Bills to pay and shopping to do, which is like this Lawrence-of-Arabia type odyssey, hah.

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