Blogger (and Contrabass Conversations guest) Michael Hovnanian wrote a great gig story on his CSO Bass Blog about an incident that happened about 10 years ago during a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance. And I think that this thing only happened in second-tier orchestras!
It was ten years ago, maybe more – one of the first concerts after Orchestra Hall was renovated to become Symphony Center. Such a grand occasion of course cried out for another run-through of the Beethoven 9th. As was usual for that era, the final rehearsal ended in a mad scramble and confusion, with time running out and not everything having been rehearsed, including notably the recititative and Ode to Joy theme for cellos and basses. The Maestro’s tempo for the Ode was slow, very slow, probably about half the metronome marking. As we know now, he conducts it in 4 when for years we were used to playing it in 2.
At the very end of the rehearsal one of the cellists interrupted the Maestro in the midst of some philosophical musings about the Ode, calling out a question from somewhere at the back of the section. “Are you doing that in two or four!?” As fate would have it this individual was a noted antagonist of our former music director. So rather than answer the question, the Maestro grew angry. “Two, four, seven! It doesn’t matter!” Rehearsal over. I’m sure most of you can tell what is about to happen next.
Read the rest of Michael’s tale here.
- Bernard Haitink – CSO Bass Blog post
- Stuff in Michael Hovnanian’s bass studio
- Time off – CSO Bass Blog post
- ‘Trout’ fingerings – CSO Bass Blog
- On An Overgrown Path features CSO Bass Blog