09. March 2009 · Comments Off on Don’t Drink & Play · Categories: Links, Ramble

Only once have I had the “joy” of sitting next to someone fairly blasted. It wasn’t fun. At all. (When someone can’t play even 8th notes and you are in thirds with that person it’s really difficult to deal.) This was long ago. I’ve not had it happen again.

It is a hidden, taboo subject, widely known about within the music world but barely discussed. Little research into the area has been done and the full extent of the problem is incompletely understood. But inappropriate use of alcohol in Britain’s great orchestras is, according to musicians, endemic – ranging from drinking a pint before a concert to steady the nerves, to full-blown inebriation on stage.

Speaking at this year’s Association of British Orchestras annual conference, Bill Kerr, the orchestral organiser of the Musicians’ Union, recalled some “regrettable incidents” involving alcohol and musicians. One involved one of the UK’s most celebrated opera and ballet orchestras “and its heavy brass section. They should have been sacked really but they would have been very hard to replace,” he said.

I’m sorry, but no one is indispensable. Maybe the speaker is saying that it was too close to when the players had to go on and they couldn’t be replaced quickly enough. In any case, they probably should have been canned, and certainly should have had some consequences.

I’ve not seen people around here drinking during intermission. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m missing it. But I think I’d be able to tell. I do recall a conductor who had vodka waiting for him during intermission. (Not someone I’ll ever work with again, not someone I’ll name, and not someone you need to know, so don’t ask.)

And then there’s this:

“For these musicians, there wasn’t anything for them to do – and it was red rag to a bull. You might say that they were grownups but there was no where for them to go. They rebelled. It got out of hand. It’s indefensible and reprehensible – but it is human nature.”

OH. Okay. “Human nature.” Um. Really? When I have nowhere to go I read, listen to the music, rest, work on reeds …. Okay, okay, forget the reed part.

Now I do enjoy my nights and weeks off, as I know that I may then enjoy a glass of wine. But before a concert? It’s just not wise. What we do is difficult enough, and I have to stay focused. Or at least try to stay focused.

But like I wrote earlier, maybe I’m naive. Maybe you all are now laughing at me. But would that be anything new? 😉

To read the whole article go here. Read the authors blog entry too.

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