Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Uranus, the Magician

I had to have known that things were going a bit too smoothly...

We rehearse in the auditorium of one of the high schools. Have done so for years. It's not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's workable. But there's always hurdles to jump through (huh?). They've just gotten higher and higher recently. To the point now that no less than 8 different people have to be CCed on any email regarding what dates we need to get into the school, what equipment we'd like to borrow, and specific times to get in. On the plus side, the assistant superintendent of schools in town is the current president of the symphony board. He's been able to steamroll some things for us, but not even he could have fixed this.

I should have anticipated problems on Saturday, when the lights in the auditorium wouldn't turn on. A janitor (who generally unlocks the doors and lets us in) ended up having to use bolt cutters on a dimmer box so that we could have light. Not something that I asked him to do, but his course of action. After rehearsal, I turn off the lights, lock the doors, and plan on coming back on Monday.

Fast forward to Monday. I was supposed to meet a janitor at 6PM. About 5 minutes later, one of our percussionists lets me in. She had been talking with the band director, who happened to be putting in some work. At 6:15, still no janitor, so I ask the band director to open the auditorium. Only because it was apparent that no janitor was in the building (I had checked the whole school). Now that I was in, I had to turn on the lights. No lights. Checked breakers, fuses, switches--nada. Staff people are called, they call school personnel, etc.... Short story--electricians were working on the lighting system in the auditorium. They shut off all power when they left. The janitor who is called by the asst. supt. had no idea that we were showing up tonight (in other words, if there was no band director working, we wouldn't have gotten in). The only available room we could move to in a pinch was the gymnastics/wrestling room. Good sized, high ceiling. Teen-aged sweaty testosterone lingering in the air. The jocks are in the school at 6:30 every morning to work out. And not a single vent to the outside. We moved the whole set-up over/up to the new room. It was hot, smelly, loud, and we only got two hours of a planned three hour rehearsal to play.

Needless to say, there will be many, many phone calls made in the morning. Fortunately, I won't have to make them. I often think it would work so much better if I just went downtown and offered some punk kid $25 for a master key to the school. Lord knows there's plenty of them out there...
The next movement in The Planets is "Uranus, the Magician". Go ahead. Get the schoolyard snickers out of the way now. This movement is big for the brass, but even Holst knew that he'd asked too much of us by this point, so everything is easy to play, and in a nice range. There is a bit of a similarity to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (think Mickey Mouse as the wizard in Fantasia). A bit more ploddy, but alot of fun to play--lots of bombastic stuff. We do bombastic well! Enjoy the Ken Russell vision--:

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