There’s an annual Labor Day concert up at Ravinia (the Chicago Symphony’s summer home) that I often play. It’s a very patriotic affair consisting of an all-Tschaikowsky program, with artillery in the park for the 1812 Overture. You know the routine–standard outdoor concert stuff.
The encoré for the evening was, of course, The Star Spangled Banner. During this number, a red, white, and blue spotlights is supposed to play across the stage as a big heap of balloons gets dumped on the audience political convention style.
The only problem with this kind of finale is that it requires storing the balloons above the audience somehow for the duration of the concert. Balloons have a funny way of popping when they’re being stored, which can be a bit of a problem in a concert setting.
When these balloons popped, there was a tremendous banging sound–pretty startling in a quiet concert setting. This was happening during the rehearsal before the concert, so we orchestra musicians were used to it, but I watched with amusement as the balloons began popping. Folks in the audience looked around with concern at first, but many started laughing as it continued to happen. It’s pretty jarring to be listening to a quiet and tender moment in a piece and suddenly hear:
Then again, almost everyone at Ravinia is on the lawn scarfing cheese and bottles of wine anyway, so who cares? Bang on, balloons!