Sunday, October 09, 2005

Oktoberfest and party technique

Last week the New World Symphony was reading the Strauss tone poem Don Juan, and MTT said of the opening of that piece: "This is a musical depiction of the desire to party!" Later that week, reading the last movement of Brahms' Second Symphony, he said the exact same thing.

There are a lot of musical depictions of parties, and the New World Symphony is perhaps the orchestra most adept at throwing one. This weekend, in fact, is our biggest party of the year, Oktoberfest, a NWS holiday celebrating the beginning of the season and the massive consumption of beer. And, of course, the somewhat horrific but traditional skewered pig, seen here with bassist James Goode, one of several musicians who guarded it through the night.

Of course, not every New World Symphony musician is a world-class partygoer. I personally have difficulty hanging around at a party for much longer than an hour, so I've developed a technique of taking strategic breaks. I'll go out, mingle, maybe drink something, then retreat into my room for a while to read or listen to music. I suppose it's a little bit pathetic and anti-social, but it helps me sustain myself through the marathon parties which New World tends to throw.

Of course, I couldn't very easily take a party break last weekend when my fellow musicians threw me a surprise birthday party. Most surprise birthday parties are perhaps not such big surprises, but this one was a complete (though very pleasant) shock. I was just getting ready for bed, when oboist Dwight and percussionist Seth knocked on my door and said they had to "show me something." I followed them downstairs, to the pool where a bunch of friends had gathered - Rick had made some brownies, Seth brought some vegetables and dip, James made mojitos, and Aimee and others collaborated on some decorations (above).

A rain storm began just as they finished singing happy birthday, but we quickly moved the party indoors. I was surrounded by everyone and just sort of sat there beaming, not knowing what to say. The other day another bassist, Matt Way, told me, "You must be the happiest bass player alive" - I guess I smile a lot, though I don't think of myself as an unusually happy person. On this occasion, though, I definitely fit that description - I didn't even feel the need to take any breaks.

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