Thursday, July 12, 2012


Okay, so now I have my topic for today's ROW80.

This has been the fucking mantra of my entire life. In every phase of it, from early childhood to what is apparently, some sort of not-quite doddering, not-yet senile dotage, I have had catastrophes. Not just quiet ones, either. Oh no. As one of my very first Viola professors said, "if you are going to make a mistake, do it in concert. Do it during a Grand Pause, and Fortississimo. Preferably on all four strings."

Which I then proceeded to go out and do the very next night during the spring Orchestra Concert featuring Rachmaninoff's "Variations on a Theme of Paganini." It turned out okay, because during that performance, we had already, 1) as three entirely separate sections gotten lost and gotten found as brass, winds and strings wandered around while the piano played furiously, and 2) Oboe clammed in an entire half step flat and sat there on that ONE NOTE while poor Dr. Reed, our conductor flailed around on the podium, sweating and losing any remaining semblance of his cool. We had arrived at the glorious Grand Pause where there is supposed to be silence for a full 4 beats. We had rehearsed it that way and everything. I guess maybe I was absent during beat school or something, but I think I came in 2 beats or maybe it was 1 beat. No, I think it was 3 beats. I was almost on time. Shit. I fucked up. All of a sudden I was playing "Simon Says" and I wasn't moving my fucking bow until Dr. Simon Says on the podium Said I Could Move. 

Now, the violas were sitting in the position normally reserved for the celli, namely on the outside of the orchestra and I was on the very outside. After I got over the complete shock of having "soloed" during a Concert that was heard by an actual "paying audience," I decided I'd better start playing along, with my section again (I was 3rd chair in a fair-sized orchestra) so I hustled along with them notes.

What do I see out of the corner of my right eye? My stand partner's scroll is jiggling up and down. The bitch is LAUGHING. This BITCH is LAUGHING at ME. You know what? She's right. This shit's funny! There's old Maestro up there flailing wildly away, trying to keep control of a Maserati engine that almost got away from him a few measures back. Our intrepid pianist, a Ms. Stephanie Hansen, God Bless her, is playing beautifully, majestically, lyrically and we're loving it! I should mention that Ms. Hansen fell down a flight of stairs the day before and is sporting two black eyes, a white bandage swathed across her patrician nose. Her blond curls are flying and she looks elegant, well except for the black eyes and bandage. Good thing she memorized the Rachmaninoff. She probably couldn't have seen over the bandaid.

Anyway, I take in the absurdity of this scene, my laughing BITCH of a standpartner and I start… to… laugh. First, it's just a little snort. Then, well. Do you know how horses do, when you put saddles on them and they puff up, or hold their breaths before you tighten the cinch all the way? String players typically do this when we try not to laugh on stage. Why, I do not know. Because that shit doesn't work. Next, we titter. Kind of nervously. If I'm sitting on the "outside," (back to the audience) I can get away with outright guffawing, during loud stuff like "1812 Overture," by turning my head towards the right. If I'm on the "inside," I'm dead. Especially if it's sad stuff like, "Pavanne for a Dead Princess." Not funny. Back then, I cared. I didn't want to laugh during the sad parts. Now? I've howled my way through some stuff. 

I turned myself inside out to keep from laughing out loud during this crapfest of a concert. Our poor conductor, Dr. Reed, who appropriately enough was a fine bassoon player, probably wished he'd stayed there, but he mustn't have been permanently scarred. He went on to introduce us to challenging and wonderful orchestral music. I went on to other orchestral "triumphs," some of which will turn up in this blog.

I don't think that I'm a particularly funny person. The shit that happens around me is funny, though and while I have pretty good powers of description, I am no threat to Andi-Roo in the insanely hilarious dialog department. She is the Dialog Grand Champion. I am a mere piker next to her.

No, I am more of a, ah, well, I really don't know what category I fall under. I spend one or two hours a day pestering people on Twitter, one or two hours a day pestering people on FB and one or two hours a day pestering a chosen few on their blogs. That's about it. I dont't think Commentators or Analysts have morphed into Pesterers yet, but given the fracturing on the various social networking sites, this may become a reality soon. Well, once again, I have just wandered right off the track here, through the woods and got eaten by bears.

Well, I will return to catastrophes and absurdities too. I must add I have no earthly idea what wind and brass players do when something ridiculous or idiotic happens on stage or in the orchestra, which it does like every 5 minutes. They probably suck wind. 
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