There’s a real buzz about this concert

The leafy villiage of Altrincham is one of the posher corners of Manchester, with many a footballer and cricketer tucked away in meticulously restored mansions behind tall brick walls.

However, the air was a little less rarified on Saturday, as Altrincham was hit with a miniature plague.

As my hosts and I were eating breakfast Saturday morning, we couldn’t help noticing that the house was rapidly being taken over by flies. “What’s drawing them in?” we wondered. As the new arrival, I couldn’t help checking my shoes and pits. “Is there something dead in the house?” they wondered. These are not really the sorts of chats that make for a relaxing pre-concert breakfast.

In the end, Adrian went looking for bug spray- he found no spray, but did get an explanation.

“It’s the farmers- they’ve been smearing manure in the fields. You’ll not find a can of bug spray in all Manchester,” the shop assistant reported in a thick Northern accent. “You’ll have to wait for a  freeze for them to move on.”  My host did manage to pick up something that looked like an electric racketball racket- and as we left for rehearsals it looked like a murderous game of R-ball was being played in the kitchen.

Sure enough, the plague had reached our concert venue just in time for rehearsal. There’s nothing like trying to sort out a difficult program with limited rehearsal time when you’re being swarmed by little black monsters. Fortunately, fate smiled. Someone in the band knew someone who had a can of bug spray left over from the last great plague. Normally, I wouldn’t celebrate the mass discharge of airborne poison, but I was pretty delighted to see it on Saturday.

Anyway, every concert has a story, a bit of drama. This one had a plague. It was refreshingly Biblical, a nice change from oboists with tendonitis, soloists with memory slips, broken lighting,  over-eager heating systems or traffic jams. As plagues go it was more irritating than terrifying. At least it wasn’t frogs.

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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 www.kennethwoods.net

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1 comment on “There’s a real buzz about this concert”

  1. Pingback: Kenneth Woods- A View From the Podium » The Final Program- Gotterdammerung

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