Sending a bass section into a hysterical fit of the giggles during a performance is not exactly the hardest thing to do, but I remember a moment a few years ago that will definitely stay with me for years to come.
Our Fearless Leader
Our principal bass for this orchestra was a very entertaining and fun-loving guy, eager to party with the whole bass section (and any other musicians brave enough to venture into a low end hang). Most bass players tend to be party animals (especially when compared with the violin section!), and late nights of bawdy good times are par for the course for bass players.
Van + Poker = Bad
Anyway, this particular bassist had a big van that would inevitably be parked near the gig, and parties that started in the local pub after rehearsal would inevitably move to the van, with a whole gaggle of musicians piling in to extend the party later into the night. I quickly learned that, while I like to have a good time, the van hang was a little too rich for my blood, so I would usually call it a night before the good times moved to the van scene.
OK–er, I have to be a little delicate with this part. Apparently one night a game of strip poker started up in a bar, which then extended out into the van. I was not privy to this game, but a certain bassist was losing…badly. Another mischievous bassist was at the game, and she, ahem, photographed the proceedings, with a few shots of a very intoxicated principal bassist completely in the buff, dangling a pair of pants to hide his goodies from the camera.
A few days later, the orchestra was playing Kodaly’s Dances of Galanta. Now, the final page turn for this piece in the bas part is followed by a slow, subdued wind section feature. The basses for this concert are arranged in a big clump, so that all players have good eye contact with the principal bassist (and his stand!). As the assistant principal flipped that last page of the Kodaly during our final concert, I saw a little flash of color from the principal stand–it was the photo! Our principal’s eyes widened with horror as everybody quickly noticed what a certain mischievous bass player had placed in his part. That photo of this obviously quite intoxicated and grinning naked bassist couldn’t have come a a worse time. Our side of the stage practically rocked back and forth as we all attempted to stifle (fairly unsuccessfully) peals of laughter.
We all stares at that photo, tears streaming down our red faces, biting our cheeks to keep from snorting and guffawing over the delicate woodwind solo happening at that moment.