Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Conductor

There's no way this story will work in a written medium since there's absolutely no spoken word, and most of the gags are visual. Still for posterity, and the hopes that I can actually act this out with the New York Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall. I got the story from watching a conductor conduct Mussorgsky's "The Hut on Fowl's Legs" by jumping up and down, punctuating accents with fist pumps, while the musicians sat and stared at their sheets of music, oblivious to the fact that they might get an errant left hook by the conductor.

The setting is a crowded music hall. The musicians are tuning up. The conductor walks out from the wings, and the audience erupts in applause. This is the legendary Pyoter Janovich. He acknowledges his audience, smooths his long hair back, and taps the baton on his stand for the orchestra to be silent. A woman in the clarinet section sneezes and all the musicians shift their chairs away from her. He bares his teeth and contorts his face into animal fury. The woman turns bright crimson and slinks down in her seat. Janovich shakes his head and regains his composure. He attempts to adjust the light on his conducting stand while standing on the base, sending several thousand volts through his body. He is flung back, helped up by the audience members to the stage, and his hair is on end. He licks his fingers and uses them to extinguish his eyebrows. He gingerly taps the light with his baton and it cuts on. He is then ready to begin conducting "Witches' Sabbath" of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. He juts his jaw out and begins by lightly trembling his fingers and baton, surprise marking his face. He starts swaying his body to the cellos. He quiets the brass section. He gently stirs the strings, flicking his baton with their slow descent down the musical scales. He starts bobbling his head to the sound of piccolos, and performs a jumping jack to the whole orchestra's forte. He resumes the head bobbling, which is joined by his arms and legs to indicate the bassoons, contrabassons, brass and piccolos. He grabs his stand and begins head banging to conduct the repititious notes of the orchestra. He looks grave as the orchestra descends into the ringing of the church bell portion. He again has the surprised look on his face as the tubas mark the start of midnight. He performs the "reach out, grab, pull towards" as the higher brass begin to join in. He moves his hands to the music as the other portions of the orchestra begin to join in. He punctuates with a punch in the air as the brass interrupts the strings! His hair is all over the place. He puts himself on auto pilot and begins looking around the audience. He spies an attractive brunette staring at him. He smiles and turns back to the orchestra. He sighs and looks at his watch as the orchestra begins a slow crescendo. He performs the "aw shucks" arm movement as the strings begin to be more prominent than the rest of the orchestra. He begins tap dancing with an idiotic look on his face as the violin section begins hitting their strings with the back of their bows to make the sound of skeletons dancing. He points to a musician and gives the thumbs up. He turns back to the brunette who is still looking at him and slyly waves at her in time to the vibrato of the piccolos. His attention is snapped back to the orchestra with a forte by the brass. He quickly turns back away and wiggles his eyebrows at the woman, again in time to the piccolos' vibrato. He begins swaying from side to side! The brass begin playing the motif from the beginning! He grabs his conductor's stand and begins clicking his heels together! The piece is over! He is finished conducting, and turns around to the applause of the audience, bowing low with his hair touching the ground. Coming out of his bow, his hair has fallen over in his face, and he attempts to untangle it while getting the orchestra to stand up for the audience. He stumbles, tripping over his conductor's stand and crashes into the first violinist.
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