8 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 6 - March 2001

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • Theatre
  • April
  • Arts
  • Musical
  • Wholenote
  • Bloor
  • Symphony
  • Choir
  • Orchestra


BEHIND THE SCENES WITH CHRIS WALROTH, co11ti1111edfro111page39 and without soloist. Chris is working from a small sheaf of paper. The cover sheet reads "TSO Week #19, Jacques Israelievitch violin", that would be the soloist. The sheet has boxes for how . many of each instrumer.zt is playing, a big box for percussion and keyboard · requirements (says "harpsi- · chord"), a space for the program, with times, and critical points - 12:00pm movdn, 2:30pm doors · open, 3:00pin concert. A "Notes" section has boxes for Audio, Lighting, Stage, Lobby and Other. There are dancers today, so the Lighting box says "Downstage warm white wash for actors, Stravinsky only". Stapled to this are three . plan views, one for eachof the pieces on the program. The position of eacli chair and music staizd is shown for each piece. The conductor's podium is there, the narrator's microphone/or the Vivaldi, and for the Stravinsky three chairs that the dancers will use. The mlJSiciansare shown, too, as little round heads seen from the top · with a nose so you can tell w~ich way they are facing; Me: How do you know what you will need? Chris: I get most of my information from our librarians, Gafy Corrin (/ talked to Gary a while back, see The WholeNote for May '98) 'and Errol Gay, but there are some- · times variables, optional · instruments, and I'll check with David Kent in personnel. Today we have dancers, next week we're doing a piece that has an optional second harp part. We did the s;une program earlier this week at Roy Thomson Hall, today we're at George Weston; ~hich has a much smaller stage. I actu;illy mapped out th~ two venues to see if it was doable, and went to the stage director so he could choreograph for ~oth spaces. Me: Do you have a staff? Chris: No, we use the IATSE stage crews at home at Roy Thomson and here, and the house P union crews when we tour. · I schedule the crew calls for moveouts and move-ins and setups·: I budget and track. The crews are paid through the venue, but the halls charge us back and part of my job is to ,reconcile their billings to my schedule. Me: Who else do you work with? Chris: I co-ordinate with front of house - on a sell-out like today I told FOH we could open 3 to 5 minutes late if there was a crowd at the .box office. I can't always · do that, sometimes the program is long and a few extra minutes could thr~w us· into overtime, and overtime for 90 musicians can get pretty expensive. In a 2,-800 seat hall, if you have 2,700and 100 to come, I have to decide if the 2,700 should be.made to wait or be disrupted by the 100 being seated late ... In a pops show where the conductor nearly always turns around ·and talks can seat people between pieces, but with a classical program and no introduction or overture, I'll hold the show; I try to avoid seating between movements of a concerto or symphony. Me: So you travel with all this stuff? Today is only up Yonge Street, but you guys went to Europe a couple of years ago. Chris·: I travel everywhere the . ·orchestra travels. I've only 'been away once; when my brother-inlaw got married, and I was able to hire Fred Bunting to fill in for me. We toured during the 1999- 2000 season with three complete programs. We had over 100 musicians, we usually have 95 musicians under contract, right now we have one or two openings in the string section, we'll be holding auditions in the new year. Each musician has one or more musical instruments .. . Me: More than one? Chris: Yes, trumpet players mostly have a B and a cornet or · something, strings would mostly take cinly one instrument, but several bows, and of course a real big selection of percussion and keyboards - marimba, xylophone; glockenspiel. The Germans liked that. When we .. . were inVienna their crew was unloadiifg our stuff, we're all remember the' names of )nsttunierits in German and . they're all. trying to remember the names of the instruments in English - we'd be looking for the tympani and that'spauken in German and they'd come across th.e glockenspiel and they'd say, "Ja., glockenspiel!" and we'd say "Yeah, glockenspiel!" We took our Scheidemeyer celeste with us, . and that was. a good thing. ·· When we were in Dresderi, 1 where the Scheidemeyer factory is ; . ~we found that.they have atech there who· comes to North America once a year to do repairs. We're on his tour now. Me: Who owns this stuff, the TSO or the musiCians? Chris: Mostly the musicians. String players, winds and horns usually own their instruments: The orchestra owns a piano, the celestes and the harpsichord, a · harp, and, some of the percussion is the orchestra's. The three percussionists all own their own tympani, but mostly they play on the TSO's -- it's p.ot practical to haul tympani back and forth eight times a week for rehearsals and performances. We own some specialized instruments - a 42 wholenote MARCH l, 2001 - APRIL 7, 2001

Wagnerian tuba, bass trumpet, Berlioz bells, all sorts of those things. Me: There have to be stories about traveling with instruments. Chris: Well, one of our bass players stayed in New York for a few days after our Carnegie· Hall performance, so instead of his double bass coming back with our truck, he booked a seat for it on the plane. It's a probiem to get a double bass through that narrow aisle on a plane, so he requested early boarding. The announcement came over the PA, "WouldMr. P. MadgettandMr. D. Bass please report for special boarding?'' And when we went to Dallas the plane got delayed and sat on the runway in the sun. A cello delaminated .. Me: Ouch! You are insured? rooms.) After the show starts again Chris flops into the chair next to me. Now he is wearing white tie and tails, complete with white cummerbund and shiny black dress shoes. Me: I observe that you are now informal dress . Chris grins: Me and 3/4 of the waiters in the world.' But it would be inappropriate for me to wear a T-shirt and jeans while all of the musicians are dressed formally. Me: Before intermission you were telling me about the carnet. Is that where the milllion figure came from? Chris nods: That anQ the insurance. The carnet for the trucked stuff came to million, . the extra insurance on musicians' · instruments that they took as Chris: We take out insurance on. everything we travel with, but also the musicians have their own carry-on luggage broughtit to insurance policies. One of the million. ·Better. than half of that things I do is I prepare the carnet, is in our string section, some of that's the document that lists them are very old, there i~ 'one everything that wi:'re trucking double bass that is worth a across the borde11. Cellos, million by itself. Please excuse basses, harps, percu~sion. me while I change - I want to be Usually the cases are inspected at ready for the end. each border crossing, although not usually everything. They Me: Do you guys get dress-down look for odd-shaped pieces -­ Fridays? there was something about the . contrabassoc;m that always caught their eye. Sometimes they'll take the carnet and say, "Show me this, show me that .." {It's intermission and Chris has to go to work. He catches the two dancers for the Stravinsky Pulcinella Suite and cautions them, "Your entrance left is going to be a little tight.'" They make big round eyes. The run-through at I O:OOam was no problem! Chris explains, "Mzen you come in there is a bass player standing about threefeet inside·the door - if you don 't fake a jog downstage you will run right smack into our principal bass player. " That would be Joel Quarrington, a substantial obstacle. The dancers absorb this. They are barefoot, I notice that the one dancing Harlequin has an Elastoplast on her big toe. Chris disappears in the direction of the dressing Chris: We do six casual concerts a year, where what you wear in the door is what you wear on stage. Some PC

Copied successfully!

Volumes 21-25 (2015-2020)

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)