Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian plays bass in an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

there there


One was quite certain that for a long part of his being one being living he had been trying to be certain that he was wrong in doing what he was doing and then when he could not come to be certain that he had been wrong in doing what he had been doing, when he had completely convinced himself that he would not come to be certain that he had been wrong in doing what he had been doing he was really certain then that he was a great one and he certainly was a great one. Certainly every one could be certain of this thing that this one is a great one.

Some said of him, when anybody believed in him they did not then believe in any other one. Certainly some said this of him.

He certainly very clearly expressed something. Some said that he did not clearly express anything. Some were certain that he expressed something very clearly and some of such of them said that he would have been a greater one if he had not been one so clearly expressing what he was expressing. Some said he was not clearly expressing what he was expressing and some of such of them said that the greatness of struggling which was not clear expression made of him one being a completely great one.

Some said of him that he was greatly expressing something struggling. Some said of him that he was not greatly expressing something struggling.

He certainly was clearly expressing something, certainly sometime any one might come to know that of him. Very many did come to know it of him that he was clearly expressing what he was expressing. He was a great one. Any one might come to know that of him. Very many did come to know that of him. Some who came to know that of him, that he was a great one, that he was clearly expressing something, came then to be certain that he was not greatly expressing something being struggling. Certainly he was expressing something being struggling. Any one could be certain that he was expressing something being struggling. Some were certain that he was greatly expressing this thing. Some were certain that he was not greatly expressing this thing. Every one could come to be certain that he was a great man. Any one could come to be certain that he was clearly expressing something.

Some certainly were wanting to be needing to be doing what he was doing, that is clearly expressing something. Certainly they were willing to be wanting to be a great one. They were, that is some of them, were not wanting to be needing expressing anything being struggling. And certainly he was one not greatly expressing something being struggling, he was a great one, he was clearly expressing something. Some were wanting to be doing what he was doing that is clearly expressing something. Very many were doing what he was doing, not greatly expressing something being struggling. Very many were wanting to be doing what he was doing were not wanting to be expressing anything being struggling.

There were very many wanting to be doing what he was doing that is to be one clearly expressing something. He was certainly a great man, any one could be really certain of this thing, every one could be certain of this thing. There were very many who were wanting to be ones doing what he was doing that is to be ones clearly expressing something and then very many of them were not wanting to be being ones doing that thing, that is clearly expressing something, they wanted to be ones expressing something being struggling, something being going to. be some other thing, something being going to be something some one sometime would be clearly expressing and that would be something that would be a thing then that would then be greatly expressing some other thing then that thing, certainly very many were then not wanting to be doing what this one was doing clearly expressing something and some of them had been ones wanting to be doing that thing wanting to be ones clearly expressing something. Some were wanting to be ones doing what this one was doing wanted to be ones clearly expressing something. Some of such of them were ones certainly clearly expressing something, that was in them a thing not really interesting then any other one. Some of such of them went on being all their living ones wanting to be clearly expressing something and some of them were clearly expressing something.

This one was one very many were knowing some and very many were glad to meet him, very many sometimes listened to him, some listened to him very often, there were some who listened to him, and he talked then and he told them then that certainly he had been one suffering and he was then being one trying to be certain that he was wrong in doing what he was doing and he had come then to be certain that he never would be certain that he was doing what it was wrong for him to be doing then and he was suffering then and he was certain that he would be one doing what he was doing and he was certain that he should be one doing what he was doing and he was certain that he would always be one suffering and this then made him certain this, that he would always be one being suffering, this made him certain that he was expressing something being struggling and certainly very many were quite certain that he was greatly expressing something being struggling. This one was knowing some who were listening to him and he was telling very often about being one suffering and this was not a dreary thing to any one hearing that then, it was not a saddening thing to any one hearing it again and again, to some it was quite an interesting thing hearing it again and again, to some it was an exciting thing hearing it again and again, some knowing this one and being certain that this one was a great man and was one clearly expressing something were ones hearing this one telling about being one being living were hearing this one telling this thing again and again. Some who were ones knowing this one and were ones certain that this one was one who was clearly telling something, was a great man, were not listening very often to this one telling again and again about being one being living. Certainly some who were certain that this one was a great man and one clearly expressing something and greatly expressing something being struggling were listening to this one telling about being living telling about this again and again and again. Certainly very many knowing this one and being certain that this one was a great man and that this one was clearly telling something were not listening to this one telling about being living, were not listening to this one telling this again and again.


This one was certainly a great man, this one was certainly clearly expressing something. Some were certain that this one was clearly expressing something being struggling, some were certain that this one was not greatly expressing something being struggling.

Very many were not listening again and again to this one telling about being one being living. Some were listening again and again to this one telling about this one being one being in living.

Some were certainly wanting to be doing what this one was doing that is were wanting to be ones clearly expressing something. Some of such of them did not go on in being ones wanting to be doing what this one was doing that is in being ones clearly expressing something. Some went on being ones wanting to be doing what this one was doing that is, being ones clearly expressing something. Certainly this one was one who was a great man. Any one could be certain of this thing. Every one would come to be certain of this thing. This one was one certainly clearly expressing something. Any one could come to be certain of this thing. Every one would come to be certain of this thing. This one was one, some were quite certain, one greatly expressing something being struggling. This one was one, some were quite certain, one not greatly expressing something being struggling.

-Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Old Brown-Shirt

Thanks to all who sent comments and emails in response to my questions about pre-concert activities. A quick trip to the lobby to snag a program revealed the startling information that there really are fellows named 'Max' and 'Brant' in the orchestra. The things I learn writing this blog...

The almost unanimous support for the onstage warmup and the recorded announcements came as a minor surprise. Usually at least one person hates almost anything and loves to tell everyone else about it. I'm not sure what to make of all the positivity.

Not everyone all over the world approves of our pre-concert routine, to be sure. Once while in Salzburg I caught sight of a sour-face old gentleman scowling at the orchestra during our onstage warmup. I'm not sure what made me notice him – perhaps the laser-beam of his disapproving glare drew my attention (I'm a pushover for negativity). When the orchestra finally quieted down, I happened to be looking in his direction as he loudly (and if I may say so, with extreme sarcasm) slowly clapped four times. Clap!...Clap!...Clap!...CLAP! His disapproval rang out in the now quiet Festspielhaus. I remember thinking that old fart probably hadn't brought hands together so vigorously since the Anschluss.

On the subject of repressive regimes, my favorite audience control technique observed to date has to be the ushers in Beijing outfitted with laser pointers, which they used to blind anyone they caught taking a photograph.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Hello People


Recently our orchestra changed the recorded pre-concert announcements. I'm curious what people think about it.

Some history for those not in the know. A few years ago, the orchestra began using a recorded announcement before each concert to remind audience members to turn off cellphones, refrain from taking photographs or making recordings. The announcements ended with the wish that people enjoy the performance (oddly, this last item outraged at least one of my colleagues – yes, we are home to some weird points of view). These recorded messages, played when the lights went up and the orchestra quieted down, before the emergence of the concertmaster, featured voices of various musical 'celebrities'. The quality ranged from witty, perhaps chuckle-worthy (Ax, Bronfman) to the cringe-inducing (Lang Lang). Whatever agreements were made to allow the use of these recording must have run out, because earlier this year (maybe before that, I can't remember) they were all replaced with one standard message read by someone on staff

A few weeks ago new recordings featuring orchestra members appeared. After introducing themselves and making some sort of witty or engaging remark, the musicians go on to make necessary reminders about cellphones, recording, and concert enjoyment. I admit to complete cluelessness about how people are chosen for this – as part of a New Year's resolution I stopped checking my orchestra mailbox months ago – but I have a feeling it is being done on a volunteer basis. I don't think I've heard all of them yet, and perhaps more are being produced as I write, but so far there have been two string players, two or three woodwinds, and a percussionist. I have a feeling if the 'musicians' had been put in charge of finding people, we would have had three bass players and a librarian to start with, so in the beginning at least, the balance seems pretty good.

As with anything, there is some debate as to the value of these announcements. I think I've heard people (well, musicians anyway) claim they undermine the dignity of the concert, but I have a feeling some of the same folks who make that argument will switch sides and battle against our Music Director when he asks us to warm up offstage and then file on, letting the music emerge from a very dignified silence. This is an idea I've opposed in the past, more for my own sense of comfort than any thought to the audience experience. I like to get onstage a bit early, line up my cough-drops, catch up on a bit of the practicing I didn't do at home, and see what sort of audience we've managed to draw that evening. But I suppose if I considered the audience perspective, I might feel differently. It would be strange indeed to arrive at a theater half an hour before curtain to find the stage roiling with activity. Hamlet and Polonius strut about, trying their lines. The ghost, adjusting his sheet, chats with Ophelia, who is clipping her nails. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern obviously have more substantial roles in the next production because they are loudly reciting lines from Henry V. Completing the scene, a few of the soldiers have formed a line and are bellowing, BAH! BAH! BAH! repeatedly at the top of their lungs. Where's the dignity in that?

Anyhow, I'm curious to hear if anyone has thoughts about pre-concert rituals.