Nightmares abound of situations where one is placed in a preposterous position and required to accomplish impossible tasks. We all have them and they haunt us perpetually.
The scene that I’m about to describe (the sign post up ahead) is the Twilight Zone of working as a concert technician.
I was contracted to sit in on a concert (as a stand-by tech) during the performance of a renowned pianist at a local venue in early summer a few years ago. I placed myself in the upper balcony.
The forthcoming performance was disastrous!
When Maestro entered the stage the audience applauded enthusiastically as he was introduced and seated himself at the piano. The program was “Pictures at an exhibition” by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.
The composition is a series of short character pieces that depict the composer’s impression of various visual displays that one might encounter in a museum or art gallery. (if you’re not familiar with the piece you can find recordings of it on YouTube). Many of these short pieces are quite challenging for any pianist and require technical expertise that only a devoted and talented musician can pull off on a concert stage.
I knew that the gentleman performing before us possessed all of those traits; but as he progressed through the series, I could see that he was struggling with the instrument. It was painful to watch and listen to.
Finally, during intermission, I was able to approach the stage and a closer inspection of the piano confirmed my suspensions about why he was laboring over the performance. It had nothing to do with his skill or artistry (both of which I knew to be impeccable). The piano was in an atrocious state of disrepair.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do anything to help Maestro on that night but I was able to convince the venue to con-scribe my services for the requisite regulation and voicing (12 hours) to make the instrument concert ready.
I’ve been caring for that piano since then and have attended many concerts in that hall, by world famous musicians playing on that instrument. They all love it! (Now)