In the summer of 1998 I played bass for the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. This festival takes place in the extreme northern part of
The bass section was filled with a bunch of interesting characters from
Our last concert series of the season was a Leonard Bernstein tribute concert. Bernstein had started this festival in the late 1980s, and this concert consisted entirely of his music. One of the pieces was his Serenade for Orchestra. It is a cute and charming piece with many different dances and styles for each movement. One of the movements is called “Turkey Trot”. Burak got really excited about this, not realizing that it the title refers to the bird and not the country. Burak’s English was definitely a work in progress at this point.
We were both on the first stand for this concert—I was playing principal. “Turkey Trot” features a bass solo at the beginning of the movement. It is a simple country/western bass line and nothing to write home about, but Burak wanted to take it to the next level.
“Jason? First performance, Maybe I play solo!” he asked.
“Sure, Burak,” I replied.
“Next performance, you play solo….I dance!”
I wasn’t expecting this question, but I told him that this was OK by me.
Burak had brought all sorts of
The first performance came and Burak played the solo. He is actually an amazing bass player, and he played it very well. The next performance I started the bass solo at the beginning of “Turkey Trot” and, sure enough, Burak got off of his stool, pulled a Turkish flag on a little stick out of his pocket, and started dancing and waving the flag around.
The entire first violin section (which wasn’t playing at the time) immediately burst into laughter, and the conductor started glancing around out of the corer of his eye to see what was going on. The entire bass section was laughing very, very hard as well.
I imagine how it must have looked to this German audience listening to a fluffy American piece like Bernstein’s Serenade to have a crazy spiky haired Turkish bass player suddenly jump up and start dancing and waving the Turkish flag during the country/western movement. I’m not sure whether or not the conductor ever realized what was going on.
We had all sorts of really strange experiences at this festival as a bass section, mostly because of Wolfgang Guettler, our bass coach for the first half of the festival. Unfortunately, some of these stories are a little too raunchy for this G-rated blog, so I’ll have to share them another time in another venue.