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The age old question: In northern Germany does one build instruments or arks?

It is 5:30 a.m. according to my body but here I am in a smoking room in a shady hotel in Chicago waiting for a pizza delivery man to deliver us out of the depths of my own personal hell. In order to FULLY appreciate what is going on in my life, let me update you.

Last night was the final concert for our stay in Germany. It was an orchestra showcase night where we play all the recognizable classics, pomp and circumstance, arias from La Traviata, Star Wars... etc. So we spent our week after the final performance of our operas-- pulling double rehearsals daily for this show which immediately sold over 1,200 tickets. The concert was to be held on the stage of the open air concert hall that we had been performing in all summer. Our initial reaction to this was "so that concert is not going to happen." It rains everyday either a light misty sprinkle that would make even an almost entirely enclosed space impossible to have wooden instruments out in or a torrential downpour. Yesterday night was a combination of the two. They said the plan if it rains was that they were "planning for no rain"... at first I laughed thinking it was one of the famous language barrier moments... nope. They decided that just in case it rains...you know, in the off chance that a prediction of there being a 95% chance of rain actually came true... they would put a tarp over cables which would cover the top of the stage. Perfect. We spent the entire day yesterday saying "there's no way I'm bringing my instrument out in this weather" yet at 19:00 we were found traipsing down to the stage in soggy socks and performance clothes. Since we had no choice, we took their assurances that no moisture would get around the tarp and onto us. Being in the viola section which is tucked in safely into the center of the orchestra, I really didn't see a big enough reason to throw the fit that was my every right to throw. I unpacked in the dripping stage managers cabin and, using my umbrella to protect my instrument and getting soaked myself, I found my way on stage. The orchestra eventually settled down under this makeshift, tarp covered nightmare, with the torrents of rain cascading down around us and we played the first 8 bars of Weber (fitting since we're in his birth town) and, after stopping at a fermata, a few people glanced up at the tarp and the stirring this sight caused, caused the rest of us to gaze upon our impending doom. The tarp, secured on 3 sides and draped over cables keeping it flat had started to pool water between the cables therefore making it drift towards the musicians like a filling water balloon. The conductor called a few men with poles on stage (meanwhile the rain tripled in the amount it was pouring on us) to poke at the bulge and coax it off one of the sides. I, along with a few of my colleagues, took this opportunity to take off my jacket to wrap my viola up, holding it against me, my body acting as the shield and then opening the umbrella to cover this pitiful last attempt at keeping my viola from becoming drift-wood. Right then, two of the musicians in the back of the 1st violin section stand up, pop open their umbrellas and leave the stage. I'm not sure if anyone reading this believes in fate but allow me to make a believer out of you. Literally 2 seconds after this walk off happened, one side of the tarp snapped open and dumped a kiddy pool amount of water onto the horn section and what would have been the back of the first violins, now just drenching their music that was left. The orchestra, now unprotected from the downpour and remaining water dumping off the tarp, was in complete pandemonium. Screaming, we all stampeded around looking for the nearest exit that was not being blocked by percussion instruments while trying to only save our instruments. The conductor is yelling orders to stay calm and save the harp and move off the stage while countless stage hands poured on to try and get the flapping, spraying tarp under control. If I and the other 60 musicians hadn't been so mad at the recklessness and the stupidity of the whole situation, and if I hadn't been so urged to yell "I TOLD YOU SO"... maybe with a few choice words attached, it may have been funny. It is now. Needless to say the concert was canceled. And after some dried off their instruments and reported damage, I luckily dried off only myself and saluted God for handing me an epic win of a thought to protect my viola at that moment. Lessons learned? Next time you have to say the phrase "I mean, we could either build an ark or play"... don't play.

The only positive thing amidst all of this? We had been invited to lunch by the friends that we had met when we were lost looking for the tree (previous blog, don't be lazy) and enjoyed a splendidly cooked meal by a woman who we were surprised to hear thought fate had led us to her, a sentiment that my other friends and I stated right after we had stumbled across them. She said how disappointed she was when she thought she wouldn't meet anyone from the festival so that day she sent "vibes" out to try and draw us to her. Sounds crazy but how else do you explain what happened? I dare you to try. Seriously.

So, We ate with her husband, their son and their grandson and gave them all tickets to our concert. Sadly, since the concert didn't happen we did not get to see them. We walked out of the concert turned party with our hearts a little sunk because we realized we wouldn't get a chance to see them again before we left. We went upstairs to pack when one of our friends came in and called us out of our room. We emerged and who do we see? Helga and Rainer, our wonderful saviors, standing in our hotel. They had seen the bus leave the concert and since they couldn't find us before they saw them leave they followed them. They don't know how or why they went to the 3rd floor and were standing right outside our door without knowing our room number or level. Fate was on our side this day. After a big hug and a promise to write, we left our friends feeling like the day was worth living after all.

Now, quickly on to Chicago. After a day of connections, international flights, airports, lines, customs and baggage claims, we finally got to our hotel to find that we didn't in fact have rooms to stay in. The numbers that we have received, were for some reason absolutely incorrect. No numbers have ever been more wrong, it seems. So we spent 2 hours between waiting for the hotel shuttle and standing around in the lobby to finally get offered a smoking room. Fine. Let the pizza man come and then let me sleep. Save me Tom Cruise. Only if you have a pizza in hand, that is.

Love you all


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John G. Gunny said...

You have a way with words. I like what you gave written. Great work. Gunny

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