Monday, July 28, 2008

Cindy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (make that Week)

Wow, boy, am I glad last week is over. We basically had all the drama you could possibly ever have in a music festival (minus the three light bulbs bursting during concerts at the beginning of the festival) rolled into about 5 days. Eeeesh.

Here's how it went:

Monday - Actually, Monday was pretty awesome. Each year, the President's office sponsors a picnic for all the students, faculty, and staff up on top of Aspen Mountain, so we all get to ride the Gondola up to the top for free and get a free lunch (pizza, burger, or caesar salad - I went for the burger. yummm.). The view from atop was gorgeous, and it was so much fun having a chance to hang out, discuss plans to go paragliding, and wander around at 12,000 feet.

The gondola - it just keeps going and going and going...the whole ride was maybe 5 min long.

Say hello to the gorgeous Artistic Admin team (minus myself; we all came together in my giant Suburban). Front row, left to right: Courtney [Asst. Artist Liaison], Jessica [Head Artist Liaison], Rachel [Program Book Intern], Manasseh [Assistant Program Book Editor and my wonderful roommate]. Back row: Shelby [Music Production Coordinator], Donovan [violinist in the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and Jessica's boyfriend - just an honorary member of the Artistic team]. Not pictured: Frances [Head Program Book Editor], Asadour [Artistic Administrator].

The complete hullabazoo as we approached the top of the mountain. Yes, that's about 750 students + 200 faculty + 100 staff...yeah, that's a lot of people.

From left to right: Me, Laura [AACA (American Academy of Conducting at Aspen) Assistant Manager], Evan [Orchestra Coordinator], Leslie [Student Performance Coordinator], Lizzy [AOTC (Aspen Opera Theater Center) Orchestra Manager], Dave [Aspen Concert Orchestra Manager - whose students came up to him during the picnic and said, "Mr. Nischwitz, can you please take a picture of us?"], Jessica, Courtney

Tuesday - Apparently I'd been getting Monday 7/21 and Tuesday 7/22 mixed up on a ton of different things, resulting in a few mix-ups. Nothing major though...

Wednesday - This is where it all begins. Wednesday afternoon, I pick up baritone AB for a rehearsal with his pianist, CD, in the middle school. After dropping off AB, we realize that CD is nowhere to be found, so I wander around the middle school searching for him in case he couldn't find the room. Meanwhile, because I left my cell phone in the car, apparently it's ringing off the hook with the entire world telling me that CD is at Harris Hall and somehow missed the boat on the fact that his rehearsal was at the middle school. No one is sure what happened - I assumed that because AB was the one who told me that his rehearsal was at the middle school, he had already discussed time and place with CD. Apparently that wasn't the case, resulting in several frustrated people. Grr.

Thursday - Apparently conductor Ludovic Morlot, who had been scheduled to conduct Sunday's concert, has a family emergency and has to go back to France. After some frantic searching, conductor (and former BachSoc conductor!) Hugh Wolff '75 is set to take his place. This is all exciting, except now it means that we have an entirely different repertoire and a new itinerary to take care of.

Friday - As Courtney introduces herself to CD at another one of their rehearsals, he says to her, "Oh, are you my page-turner?" Somehow, we never got the memo that he'd wanted a page turner - his management had indicated earlier that he didn't want one. Whoops. Their concert is on Saturday evening, and we don't have time to contact the collaborative piano department - Courtney calls me, and I head over in a flash. I've had a few odd experiences here and there turning pages...and I quickly realize that they want just about everything to be attacca, which means all the movements to flow with minimal (if any at all) break in between. What makes it more difficult is that AB and CD speak to each other in German, and I have no idea what they're saying or where they're starting and have to find their place by listening and matching it with the music. It's not hard, but it's difficult when they start a few measures before a page-turn and then I have to leap up and flip the page - as quietly as possible, of course.

AB and CD have another rehearsal that evening, so I pick up AB to take him to the concert hall. On the way, he tells me that he wants to have more rehearsal time in the concert hall the next day. I tell him I'll try and figure out what I can arrange for him, but ultimately, the hall's basically booked from 7AM until the time of the concert. This is where it gets fun: he then tells me that unless he can get more time in the concert hall, he won't be able to perform the next night. Oy vey.

I go find Brad, the production manager, and tell him about the predicament. The schedule for the hall the next day basically went something like this:

9:00-12:00 - Aspen Festival Orchestra rehearsal
12:00-2:30 - Removal of the stage extension put in for the AFO rehearsal
2:30-3:30 - Piano tuning time
3:30 - House opens for 4:00 concert
4:00 - Chamber Music Concert
6:00-7:30 - Piano tuning time
7:30 - House opens for 8:00 concert
8:00 - Concert featuring AB and CD

Now, the real complication was that, well, 100 feet away from the concert hall the next morning, the Dalai Lama would be speaking in the Benedict Music Tent. Yes, welcome to Aspen. Yes, John McCain was also in town. As was John Travolta. And a few other luminaries. Because of that, the entire orchestra had to show up at 7:30AM to go through security, and then they would all be locked in the hall until the rehearsal was over, and then get escorted out. We all had to carry credentials with us at all times and our names and photos had to be on a master list that was handed to the members of the state service on duty the next day. So basically, there was barely any time to squeeze in an extra hour-long rehearsal.

Brad came with me and helped me explain to AB and CD that there was no way that they would be able to get any extra time in the hall the next day - they could free up maybe an hour in the evening, cutting into the piano tuning time, but other than that, absolutely nothing. AB insisted that the morning orchestra rehearsal be moved so that he could have a chunk of time to rehearse in the middle of the day, or that the chamber music concert use an untuned piano. Otherwise, he was firm - he wouldn't perform.

Ohhhh dear. So we then call Asadour in, and take him out of a concert to have him explain the situation to AB and CD. We eventually compromise and give them time from 5:45-7:00, which seems to somewhat placate the duo (although not entirely). In the meantime, I'm in my complete don't-shoot-the-messenger mode as they chatter away in German to each other about the situation. Eeeks.

The rest of the rehearsal goes as smoothly as it can, and then I take AB home. Afterwards, I head back to the concert hall and pick up credentials for myself, Hugh Wolff, and Gil Shaham, all of whom will be attending the lock-down rehearsal the next day. I call Hugh and Gil and make sure that they're all set, that we'll meet at the front desk of the lobby at 7:30AM and take the shuttle over, and I'll have my car parked close by overnight so that the next day I'll be able to take them both home after the rehearsal.

VIP passes to the Dalai Lama! Too bad it means that we can't go anywhere near him.

Then, as I'm finally about to head home, I have my first traffic accident. Whoops. I was backing out of my parking space, and saw an ostensibly empty space behind mine (then again, it was pitch black in the parking lot and the back lights on the giant red monster don't work too well), and I back into it...until I hear a crunch. Oh dear. Nothing serious - just a few scratches on my car, and scratches and a busted light on the other, but, well, let's just say that that was the last thing I needed in my otherwise perfect (hah.) day.

When the dust settles (and I make copies of insurance information, yada yada yada), I finally get to park my car about a block away and then walk the 6 or so blocks home (yes, in the pitch blackness). Oyyyyy.

Saturday - I'm stuck in the morning running a few last-minute errands and I can't make it over to pick up Gil and Hugh at 7:30 on the dot (especially since I'm zipping around town on my bike and not a car), so I call the hotel and leave them a message at the front desk. Then, when I finally get there, Gil and Hugh are nowhere to be found. The front desk tells me that they'd already taken the shuttle to the hall - apparently they never got my message. Ohhh dear. So I hop right back on my bike and race over to the hall as quickly as my legs can do at about 7:55 in the morning, meet them on the other side of security, and then hand them their credentials. Funny, despite all the buildup, the actual event is really lax - all they did was check my VIP badge and then put me through the metal detector. We spend the morning locked in the hall while I work with Sara the librarian on putting bowings into parts for upcoming concerts, and everything with the rehearsal goes finely and dandily.

I have maybe a half an hour of down-time after the rehearsal to take a shower, then zip to the middle school to where AB and CD are rehearsing, sit with them in their rehearsal and practice turning pages (I swear, there's a particular art to it...), take CD home, have about an hour to make/eat lunch and pack myself a sandwich, and then race over to the concert hall again to work the 4PM concert. It's my last concert with members of the Ying Quartet, who are perhaps the coolest people in the world - they're super-chill and I've been a huge fan ever since they played in my Beethoven String Quartet seminar freshman year.

Afterwards, I stay at the hall, getting ready for the 8:00 concert. Since this is already super-long, I'll just say that it went as well as it possibly could, and it was quite amazing. I was nervous as heck, but I've now made my Aspen debut :-). Courtney and I went out to dessert with her mom and friend afterwards to celebrate the end of an excruciating week. Mmm creme brulee.

Sunday - I'd been looking forward to this day all week. Whenever I work Aspen Festival Orchestra concerts, the schedule always has a 9:30-12:00 open rehearsal and a concert at 4:00 that day. So in between, Rachel, the orchestra manager, and I always go to our favorite restaurant downtown, a super-delicious vegetarian place called the Explore Bistro, which sits above the Explore Bookstore. Believe me, I'm a complete and total carnivore, but their seitan soft tacos are to die for. Mmmm. Over some of those, a tofu reuben, gazpacho soup, and warm pumpkin cake a la mode, we melt away all of the stress of the entire week before - it's about an hour and a half of heaven in our hectic day.

The concert itself goes relatively well - Gil Shaham is an Aspen favorite, which means that afterwards, there is a fire-hazard-worthy amount of fans crowding the backstage area. We tried to give him a chance to put away his instrument, but he decided not to so that he could visit with all of his fans - and there still wasn't enough time for him to visit with everyone before intermission ended! He's one of the most genuinely nice people I've worked with all summer - completely easy-going and ridiculously funny with his Zoolander references and knowingly terrible puns. He's been here almost all summer so far, and will be leaving next week. We're all going to miss him.

Rachel, Nick (another orchestra manager), and a few others and I make plans to soak in the hot tub that evening at the female orchestra managers' house. A few hours later, though, I get a text message from Rachel - she's going to bed. We were all exhausted.

So there you have it. After that, I can do anything - right? (Actually, I don't even want to try.)