October 2009

'Lost Situational Awareness'

October 28, 2009 09:44

A conductor for the Really Big Orchestra, who delayed the final movement of Tuesday night’s performance of Schumann’s Symphony no. 1 has denied having a disagreement with the concertmaster or cracking jokes at the podium.

Maestro Holdyer Applaws refused to say what had distracted him to such a degree that he forgot to end the third movement of the symphony and proceed to the fourth movement, delaying intermission by thirty minutes. Audience members in the Louderpleez Symphony Hall were not aware of the problem, as orchestra members seemed to have the situation under control and had not pressed the call button to alert the conductor.

"The concertmaster and I were not having an argument; we were not telling viola jokes," Mr. Applaws said in regards to speculation over what caused the problem. For more than twenty minutes, backstage personnel and concert hall administrators attempted to contact Mr. Applaws and concertmaster Coudabin Asoloist, using Bluetooth earpiece communication, frantic hand gestures, and flashing of the stage lights. The audience, apparently, still had no idea anything was wrong.

“I thought it was simply a multimedia performance,” one audience member shared afterward. “You know, getting on with the times, livening things up a bit. Because, in truth, the music was sort of dragging on at that point.”

"It was not a serious event, from a musical perspective," Mr Applaws said later from his penthouse apartment at the Ritz Carlton that the Really Big Orchestra retains permanently for visiting conductors in lieu of salary increases for orchestra members. "I would tell you more, but really, you should just buy the CD.”

Mr. Applaws was referring to the fact that the performance was being recorded that night for commercial purposes. Administrators harbor hopes that playing back the recording might offer clues as to what went wrong, although due to the fact that the third movement lasted thirty minutes longer than anticipated, crucial parts of the fourth movement—namely the end—are now missing.

Mr. Applaws would not further discuss the lapse, "but I can tell you that musicians and audience members alike get lost in the music all the time. I mean, this is Schumann for chrissakes. The guy himself went nuts listening to the music in his head. So gimme a break.”

Mr. Applaws has not been suspended, nor will he be, in the hopes that audience numbers will increase—along with his seven-digit salary—when the maestro comes to Minneapolis to tackle Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 over the coming weekend. Speculation runs high that he might break his thirty-minute record, however there are risks that the day’s earlier rehearsal might be cancelled due to recent delays in flight arrival times into Minneapolis.

Members of the orchestra interviewed indicated the conductor and concertmaster seemed to be having a heated discussion via hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions and simply "lost situational awareness." However, a number of musicologists and audience members who “could've played that violin part much better” have speculated that the two may have simply been telling viola jokes.

“It’s not a funny business, not in the least,” indignant violist Gotta Pikkonme exclaimed. “That was no time to be telling viola jokes. In fact, there’s never a good time.”

A frustrated timpanist finally tipped off the conductor by approaching the podium, waving his drum stick in a menacing fashion. The conductor promptly regained focus and landed the movement safely before proceeding to the fourth movement.

None of the 800 member audience were injured, in spite of rumors that several people had been “dying of boredom.” For more information, interested parties should contact Really Big Orchestra’s ticket office.

© 2009 Terez Rose, but we’ll give the AP credit for a line or two, as well.

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