I practiced in the little theatre on saxophone in high school, they had detention on the other side of a removable wall behind the stage. I would hear kids yelling, He's playing that wake the dead horn again.
Or, I think a bull moose broke into the school.
Or, I don't even want to know what he's doing to the cat.
Or, Just what part of hell is this????
My favorite, I'll never skip school again if you just make it stop!!!!! (When you laugh through a saxophone, it sounds like an aardvark fart.)
Navy boot camp honor guard band, second week I fell twice, both times twisting my body to land on my back.
1st time company commander says,"I like the way you protect your weapon."
2nd time he says,"Just where in the hell did you learn to walk?" After that week I lived with the name weeble for a pretty good while. "Here's weeble, he weebles and he wobbles and this one falls down.
Oh, I haven't posted any of these in a while.
Community orchestra where I was subbing in January:
Wagner, Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin
Bruch, Violin Concerto No. 1
Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5
"You're on the Volga, maybe eating some borscht, or doing something romantic... anyway it has a lot of sour cream in it. 93 again, [in Russian accent] like folk song from old country."
(on people rushing)
"We're going to have to start issuing tickets."
"Why don't violins ever do that? You know, swab out the inside of your instrument..."
"That was the best 16th note pickup we've had yet. Group telepathy -- we need nothing short of that. And we'll all bend spoons during the break."
"It's not your fault, it's the tuba's. You tell that sucker what to do! You are the wizard. You are the grand master of tubatry."
"Seconds! You don't love this enough. It's a loving rage."
"No matter how high and how dissonant it gets, it must be screechingly beautiful."
"Bruch put accents on the dotted quarter notes. I want accents on the eighth notes too. It has to have GUTS! BEER AND NAILS!"
"I.V., everyone. Movement I.V.! This movement needs medical attention."
Conductor: There is always an absolute worst order for any program. Prokofiev's 5th, then the concerto, then we do the intermission, and then Wagner. 3-minute second half.
Cellist: Or the slow movement of the Prokofiev last.
Conductor: Oh, Alexander has an even better one. Everything in the first half except the slow movement of Prokofiev.
"Please remember to remain on stage after the concert. If you need to visit the little virtuoso room, you have a few minutes to do that, but remember to come back to the stage for the photo."
"So we all stand up, there's thunderous applause, we throw our instruments into the mosh pit, the house lights come on, and I think the audience will know the concert is over by the time we start setting up for the photo shoot."
Semi-pro orchestra, playing program of all African-American composers.
Julia Perry, Study for Orchestra
Florence Price, Violin Concerto No. 2
Chris Castro, Sing High
William Grant Still, Symphony No.1 "Afro-American"
(on composer Chris Castro, who played in our orchestra while in grad school)
"And then he graduated. People have a nasty habit of doing that."
Conductor: He uses a lot of quintuplets. Think of your favorite five-syllable word. Dallapiccola, Dallapiccola, or something like that.
Conductor: That's too complicated. I like Italian-sounding words. Put in too many consonants and I get confused.
Percussionist: We're waiting for a solo violin cue.
Conductor: I'm singing it with all of my passion! You insult me... (sings solo violin line)
"This needs to be more like a chicken. Not like a little bird. This bird doesn't fly."
"Please listen to this recording. And disregard it. It's horrendous."
"It needs to be lazier in the clarinets. A little more feline. [imitates cat stretching] Almost like you're taking a nap. Let's try that again."
(orchestra runs passage)
"I fear my image of the sleepy cat gave you the wrong impression. It needs to be like that in sound but not in tempo. This cat is a little too sleepy now. Maybe try sleeping, but with one eye open."
"This is... to give you an idea of the kind of sentimentality we're looking for, if you've ever seen Il Padrino, The Godfather, [in wheezy voice] this is very much alike, you know? Padrino! [back to normal voice] So don't hold back."
"The gong needs to come out more. Maybe it's a paella dish."
(percussion section looks quizzical)
"No, really, it looks like a paella dish if you turn it on its side. Mmm, I like paella."
Conductor: This should sound like an angry dog. Right now you're sounding like sheep.
(conductor cracks up)
Conductor: Now I can't concentrate.
"Violins, how dare you start the tremolo without me? Listen to the poor timpani, he's been practicing for 20 years just for this moment, and you're just going to step on him like that? How dare you ruin his moment?"
Gabriela Lena Frank, Elegia Andina
Xavier Beteta, Piano Concerto (US premiere, with composer as soloist)
Mozart, Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter"
"You are the spine... or the butt... or something heavy that we should all be listening to."
(to 2nd violins)
"I think tonight is a good night to feel empowered. When you have something in the lower octave, you are the reasonable cousin."
"We've got some conveyor belt action here [gestures at 2nd violins] so we can all take our luggage behind us and roll along."
"One thing I like about working with composers: they're all really unhinged."
"This is where you put the cufflinks -- no, what do you call them, the handcuffs -- on them. You jump in and tie them up [mimes being handcuffed behind back], that's the plan."
"It should feel like it's running out of battery, like a little bunny."
Concertmaster: What should the pizzicato people be listening for at 105?
Conductor: Yourselves. (orchestra laughter) There's nothing else going on there... except for something very muddy in the cellos that isn't going to help anyone. (looks at cellos) Not saying anything negative about any of you.
"Why is it that violinists never like to use more than one finger?"
"Like Farinelli in the movie, you're singing Handel and you're going to make him famous, and you need to sound totally un-preoccupied. Same place."
(orchestra plays passage)
"That was The Invisible Man. I wanted to see how un-preoccupied you are, but I can't hear you."
(cellphone rings in same tempo as music)
"Whoa, even the marimba and iPhone are together!"
"Start at 266 again so we can be fluffy. Let's grab the nice loaf of French bread that suddenly appeared in front of us."
(pianist/composer misses entrance in his own concerto)
"Who hired this pianist?"
Pianist/composer: What tempo will we take after the double bar?
Conductor: Go talk to the composer!
"Please listen to this recording. And disregard it. It's horrendous."
I have to admit, when I was learning CG, I listened to a lot of Youtube offerings and used more than 95% of them as lessons in how not to play.
Do you have an exceptional memory for these quotes, Andrew, or do you record your rehearsals?
Are you familiar with our "Sixten Ehrling" quotes?
I'm sure I posted these earlier but here they are again.
I had him a few times a year when during my sixteen "Malmo Symphony Orchestra" years.
He honestly made some of our top musicians cry and even call in sick.
I thought that he was funny and I guess that kept me from being picked on. If we laughed at what he said, he would chuckle as well.
I remember reading them. There were some really good ones in there!
Time to revive this thread. Now that several people have joined orchestras, I hope other people have quotes to post!
I've had two concerts since I last posted, both with the semi-pro orchestra, one in late May and one last weekend. Rehearsal quotes for both...
J. Strauss Sr., Radetzky March (side-by-side with youth orchestra)
Colin Regan, Solace
Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2
Williams, Star Wars Symphonic Suite
"Our heroes see a nice cluster chord."
(on a passage in the Imperial March -- wrong movie?)
"This needs to be more Harry Potter, a somewhat friendlier 'feroce.' Picture yourself with a magic wand."
(woodwinds jump the gun on entering after a fermata)
"I'm taking a little break, why is this so hard to understand?"
"At this point the cymbal should be about to drive us nuts."
(discussing concert logistics at the dress rehearsal)
Cellist: And now we get off the stage...
Conductor: Let's get the lights on first. I think it might be a good idea.
(on plans for staged action by costumed actors between movements of the Star Wars suite)
"Between Leia's Theme and the Imperial March, there will be a... little exchange of ideas."
Nicole Lizée, Zeiss After Dark
Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto
Borodin, Symphony No. 2
"We just need to be somewhat attacked by the hornet's nest, we don't need to see every single hornet."
"Is the horse dead when you beat it? That's weird."
"Whatever you need to get into that hoedown spirit -- I don't know, in Russian culture, did they have hoedowns?"
"I suspect what we're all doing is, we see the rest and think, 'Rest, I see you and I respect you.'"
"You're hesitating early!"
"It sounds like we're thinking, because this is a concerto, we're not allowed to breathe. I think it would be better to have a bit of self-agency."
"When we get to H, it should be like driving a SUV and trying to press on the brake while accelerando."