Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Long, Hot Four Days, Part II

After leaving the parent's party (see post below), I headed for the symphony rehearsal I was missing. It was our last chance to really work out the kinks, because the remaining rehearsals would be held onstage at the concert site. But first, the stage would have to be set up, and all the other production things that needed doing.

FRIDAY--I showed up at the site at about 7:30AM, prior to the semi and stage crew showing up. I was armed with pictures from last year's set-up, which seemed to work pretty well. As it ended up, we were about a foot off on one corner, which forced the whole stage to point a few degrees further up the hill. Which was a good thing. Almost like I planned it! I don't have any pictures from Friday, since they look remarkable similar to last season's pics, which can be seen here. The scary thing about Friday is that the entire stage set-up (including platforms, chairs, stands and percussion) was done about 2 and a half hours earlier than any other year. Obviously, we were forgetting something. Surprisingly, we hadn't. We have just gotten very good at this!

Not only were we on top of things, but so was the staff from Carroll College, who took care of the things NOT included with the stage. We were all on top of our game! The temperature was killer--mid 90s with no breeze. And absolutely no moisture of any kind. Lots of water consumed that day!

SATURDAY--Since an estimated 10,000 people were expected there were a few people who came out to lay down tarps/blankets a day early. The first one went up at 12:20 PM on Friday! Dozens more came out on Saturday morning, as early as 6AM to claim their spots. We rehearsed at 10AM for one last time, which went very smoothly (again, surprisingly). I stuck around for awhile afterwards, taking care of last minute detail stuff. I was able to get home, take a long-needed shower, and head back for the night.

Because it was so blasted hot all day, people claimed their spots and headed home so they could return after the heat died down. At 5:30, the hillside was pretty full (couldn't really merge the pics, but you get the idea. As always, click the picture to get see the full effect!). Where else could you leave chairs, tents, tarps and the like for hours on end, knowing they wouldn't be disturbed??

The South was apparently represented...

A view from on top of the hill.

The concert started at 8:30, and was superb! We played quite well. Any glitches were very minor, and unnoticeable. We played movie themes, ranging from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind" to "North by Northwest", "Lawrence of Arabia" and Disney themes. Of course, you can't do movie music without doing some John Williams, so we did "Jaws", the flying theme from "E.T." and, of course, the main title from "Star Wars" (which is an absolute bitch to play!). We then ended the concert with Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture", which has nothing to do with movies or even America, but makes a great background for fireworks. And we had 2 and a half minutes of virtually non-stop fireworks, complete with a 15-second finale, which ended just as the orchestra was playing the final chords of "1812". Nothing quite like the roar of 10,000+ people directed at you. Sure, it was because of the fireworks, but the sustained applause was for us. And frankly, it was well deserved!

Below is the view from the back row, looking from the extreme left over to the far right, just as the concert was getting started. I haven't heard the estimates of the crowd size, but there's no question that we had well over 10,000 people there. I wouldn't argue with a figure of 12,000. I'm sure that by next season, the number will creep up to 15K, but I'd highly dispute that one.

SUNDAY--A day of rest. For some, but not us! It hit 100 degrees early in the afternoon, but by that time just about everything had been done. I was back making a quick check of the stage area. The stage truck left at around 2AM. The sound guys were out of there at about the same time. Clean-up crews did a fantastic job. There were only a handful of things left to do that had to wait until Monday. All in all, a fine effort put out by all. The out of town players were all impressed and grateful for the opportunity to play (mostly because their own orchestras might get a few hundred people to show for their summer concerts). I still find it amazing that we can get thousands of people to come out to a concert to hear a volunteer community orchestra! Next year, it'll probably fall on the 3rd weekend of July. Mark your calendars now!

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