A year ago, Hans Vonk conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in a production of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. During the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth, there is a large pause in the Orchestration where only the chorus sings. Four bass players, feeling they could use this break to get out and stretch their legs, slipped off backstage and proceeded to go outside to smoke a cigarette and take a little nip from a bottle one of them was carrying. Well, they lost track of time and became quite inebriated. Finally one of them says, “Say! We should really be getting back in… It’s almost time to play our part.” “Don’t worry,” confided one of the other bassists with a wink. “I’ve fixed it so that we have a longer pause… I tied together the last parts of the conductor’s score before our part begins!” All the bass players had a good chuckle and took a few more swigs and headed in. Once they popped back on stage, they saw that conductor Vonk was absolutely furious. After all, it was the bottom of the Ninth, the basses were loaded, and the score was tied.
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