Three crazy hours

Back around 4 PM to PDT and we’ve had a bit of a problem. Our office coordinator had called a friend of the orchestra who often has to save the day for us and asked him if he could get to the school to pick up the risers. When he arrives they try to give him the wrong risers, standing instead of seated risers, and there are some words between the various parties, as no one seems to understand what’s going on except for the office person, who can’t easily get anyone to listen to her.She and I talk and we decide that since we’re starting with the finale tonight we can go ahead and use our standing risers that we have at the hall and install the platforms the next day. We do still need another truckload of chairs and stands from the high school orchestra, which are easy to get, and we need to unload all the percussion gear, chairs and stands that we took on the school tour. Poor John our saintly stage manager/ principal percussion only has a little break to grab a bite before he’s off to pick things up.For me, I have to get to the hall to install the video monitor for the offstage ensemble. We’ve not had great luck finding someone who’s able to handle technology-related production issues, so it’s one thing I just do myself. After some time I conclude that the video relay is broken, so we’ll have to do the offstage music onstage tonight…One good thing: it turns out that the platforms have been left for us in the freight elevator! Our long-suffering board member saved the day after all. John arrives with a nightmare-ish amount of work to do. We can’t load in the equipment from the school concerts until we’ve emptied the freight elevator, so that means that we’re only just getting the last chairs and stands into the buildings as all the new players are arriving. This is the first rehearsal with the chorus and all the imports, so we’ve got to find room on the stage for everyone. People want to get onstage and warm-up (and stake out their territory) so the stage crew is having to work around them.

It’s down to the last possible second that we’re handing stands across the stage to people. Then, all of the sudden, we have an A and we’re starting….



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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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