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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #306
The Premier(e)
David Gunn

The first public performance of a clot of musical notes arranged in a seemingly novel manner, or premiere, has always been a source of excitement, expectation, doubt, dread, melodrama, misgivings, apprehension, alcohol dependence, and at least two adjectives that begin with "g" that I can't recall at the moment. The audient, having paid good money for admission to the event -- unless he or she was clever enough to slip in early with the technical support crew and pretend to open a box of programs before sliding unnoticed into general spectator seating -- presumably experiences a sense of expectation: "will I get my money's worth, or will this be another inane attempt to turn an acoustical event into a musical one by employing sampled washing machines and the ephemeris from 2119 showing a projected collision between Uranus and the Crab Nebula?" The performers probably lean more towards a feeling of apprehension: "oh, if only we'd had more than that one rehearsal at the daycare center where the cello got impregnated with little Jezebel's head lice," or "I just have to focus on the future -- tomorrow the composer will be in prison, the audience will have dispersed after a night of querulous debate, and I'll be bowling and won't ever have to worry about subdividing 32nd notes into quintuplets ever again." The composer, on the other hand, can expect to feel a gamut of emotions -- from the initial pangs of doubt when one of the musicians abruptly moves away without leaving a forwarding address; to excitement when that musician is discovered playing Parcheesi Music in a Boca Raton Chill 'n Grill and extradited back to the rehearsal in the nick of time; to alcohol dependence when that musician turns out to be the only rehearsal attendee, the others having been unfortunately transported to the planet Uranus in the year 2119. So discombobulating has the atmosphere around premieres become that some governments have instituted measures to counter potential cultural destabilization. The country sometimes known as Canada, for instance, has established the executive position of premier, a chief administrative officer for first-time public performances of concerts, movies, plays, interpretive wrestling matches among proprietors of intellectual property rights, crustacean wrangling events, to name ... well, five. Each of Canada's 12 provinces -- or 13, if you count Uranus -- has a premier. Each premier has an office, an administrative assistant, an unpublished telephone number, and an overwhelming number of premieres on his or her weekly calendar to oversee. His job may include hot-wiring music stands, vulcanizing pianos, transposing instrumental parts into French and all too often extraditing the occasional reluctant performer back to the entertainment venue. The premier's overriding feeling towards a premiere, therefore, is likely to be one of grim resignation -- and, no, thatís not one of the "g" adjectives from the first sentence that I couldn't remember. Come to think of it, "grim resignation" is possibly the most apt description for the audient, the performers and the composer, too. The performance will be what it will be; nothing anyone can do ahead of time can change anything, just as no one can change Uranus from its inauspicious ending in the Crab Nebula in 118 years -- no one, that is, save Warbler H. Blackmoor ... but, that's another story.

This story, for those of you who haven't already surmised, constitutes the once-delayed 306th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, itself perched halfway between the premiere of a clot of musical notes arranged in a seemingly novel manner in Montpelier last night and one in Burlington this evening, and seated not quite midway between the two nights the Bazaar and the vulcanized piano is our own chief administrative officer, Kalvos.