Bass Blog

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

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Rex Tremendae!

This is probably as good a time as ever for the Bass Blog to shift back to something lighthearted. The concert on Saturday {actually Thursday - see comments} evening was notable for the return of the audience member (affectionately) dubbed by orchestra members as 'Thesaurus Rex'. I'm referring to the gentleman in the terrace seats who manages to yell out something at the end of a piece, in the split second before the applause or shouts of 'Bravo' emanate from audience members with normal reflex times. 'Thesaurus' refers to the content of his utterances, usually some adjective of praise.

I wish I had a record of all the weird things audience members have voiced at the end of pieces over the years. For me, the gold standard still has to be the person at the University of Illinois Krannert Center who sat through an entire lengthy Symphony by Georges Enescu (can't remember which one) and enunciated a perfectly well-formed, loud “BOO!” before anyone else in the room could react. A close second goes to the audience member who, right before the very quiet ending of Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde, groaned aloud, “Oh...God...!”

At the very end of the concert this past Saturday, with the last note of the Bruckner 7th still ringing in the hall, Thesuarus Rex managed to yell out “Awesome!” before any other audience member made a a sound. However, at the end of the first work on the concert, the Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (which one of my colleagues, in response to the increasing volume at which the piece was played each night, dubbed the Overture to The Bombing of Nürnberg) Rex yelled out something a bit more lengthy and complex, which nobody I spoke with could quote with absolute certainty since the normal applause had drowned out most of it. The best guesses I heard were “Dudamel would be proud!” which makes sense since Salonen, Dudamel's predecessor in Los Angeles was on the podium, or else “Why do you play so loud!” which, when you think about it, could apply to almost any concert at 220 S. Michigan Ave.

If anybody heard that and knows (or has an entertaining guess) what was said, please comment here or email me. I'm dying to know.

13 comments:

Musician said...

RE: "Thesuarus Rex" -- I was sitting in the terrace for that performance (I am positive it was on Thursday) and am quite sure he shouted "Cecil B. DeMille" after the Wagner.

Michael Hovnanian said...

OK, thanks: I was way off on all counts. But what the heck does that mean?

Brad said...

I wonder if the reference was to say that Salonen had led a loud, showy spectacle as DeMille had become so well known for in the big blockbusters he directed. If so, whether it was meant as a compliment is hard to say. As exciting and beautifully played as the Wagner was, the dynamic range was basically forte to fortissimo. Maybe he should have yelled, "Solti!"

sjid said...

DeMille's style has been compared to Wagner's because they are both inclined toward the spectacular.

Andrew said...

Any incidents of "Freebird" or "Slayer"?

Michael Hovnanian said...

I'm still waiting for the stuffy Austrian guy to yell out "Freier Vogel!" but it hasn't happened yet.

Andrew Patner said...

The remarkable immediately post-Enescu "BOO!" was Thursday night, November 10, 1994 downtown. We were there. The eminent Romanian conductor and eminent Enescu advocate Lawrence Foster (of the eminent Romanian Fosters) was on the podium for the deathless Second Symphony of 1912-14 which was having its belated U.S. première. The "BOO!" man was seated in the upper balcony next to a house guest of ours. The evening was also memorable because the piano soloist in the Beethoven Third Concerto, a tetchy Frenchman named Jean-Bernard Pommier, was (understandably) getting distracted by a handicapped person in the front row of the main floor who kept moving during the performance until Pommier mid-arpeggio turned towards the listener and shouted, "Stop that! Now!" Stuff like this just doesn't happen enough.

Michael Hovnanian said...

Thanks for correcting another of my faulty recollections...

Someone ought to compile a book of these weird incidents.

Andrew Patner said...

a) It was meant as an amendment and elaboration, Michael, not as a correction.

b) I agree! "Bass Blog: The Book"!

Michael Hovnanian said...

b) if and only if it is "as told to Andrew Patner"

Roderick said...

I love your blog. You're a really talented writer!

Andrew Patner said...

LOL -- Maybe Hank Aaron or Willie Mays can give us some tips on the genre.

Steve from down South said...

Haven't had a chance to read your blog in a while (I had asked a Shost. 5 / Chung question). Laughed out loud several times. Nice to live vicariously through a working musician - and one who also wonders why the CSO seems to play quite loud quite often.