Monday, December 7, 2009

Pit Problems

Even though I really enjoy working in the orchestra pit, it makes me a little bit nervous. The first year I played with the KSO we were rehearsing in the pit when someone ran past and accidentally kicked something into the pit. Now, if you haven't seen the pit at the Civic, understand that our heads are just about at the level of the auditorium floor. The UFO flew into the pit and hit my viola hard enough to crack the belly and the sound post. It happened so fast and was so unexpected that at first I had no idea what had happened. Everyone around me stopped, shocked, while the conductor yelled to keep playing (it was the last 5 minutes or so of a dress rehearsal and he thought I had just broken a string).

I have always been well aware of the hazards of playing in a pit. The next time you go to a musical, ballet, or opera with live music if you look carefully you will see nets that extend part way off the stage to the pit. Those are to catch anything that might fly off the stage and onto the musicians. That is not an altogether uncommon occurrence, either. Being hit from the audience side was something I had never thought about until it happened.

Such is the nature of the pit. The unexpected should be, well, expected. It's a different layout than we're accustomed and we're working in less space with more stuff: cases, wires, lights, risers, etc. Things happen.

And, at Saturday night's Nutcracker performance, something did happen. Earlier in the week, my stand partner Eunsoon and I had noticed the desk of our stand was a bit loose. As long as we didn't tilt it back too far it was fine and we didn't think much about it. Saturday evening we were playing along when suddenly the desk flopped completely upside-down, catapulting our music toward the first violins while blinding them with our stand lights. As is often the case when things go awry, it happened during the quietest part of the entire ballet.

We're not sure what happened. No one touched the stand, and it didn't happen right after a page turn. So we're doing what all musicians do when something bad happens that can't be explained.

We're blaming the conductor.

1 comment:

Robyn Allegra said...

So that's what we're supposed to do when something like that happens. Good to know... *stores the info away* ;-)