Saturday, May 15, 2010

School for Scandals

"How did you get to be so creative?" asks my husband after reading the first installments of Frantic.

Here's my secret: I learned from the best of them. We had quite an education thirty years ago as members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Not only was there a vast selection of repertoire to be played, everything from Mozart to Lazarof,  Bach to Bill Conti, but a rich supply of characters to make life interesting. Cupid slung her arrow at us, and we caused quite a stir. Our being together was a no-no and nobody expected us to last. But look at us now, thirty years later—

My husband and I take a stroll down memory lane.

The LACO was a 35-40 piece ensemble which played together on the average of one or two weeks out of the month. We performed regularly at Ambassador College in Pasadena, but also on campus at UCLA, and Claremont College. The orchestra gave run-outs in Palm Springs, El Cajon and Santa Barbara.The bus rides were especially memorable, as they afforded an opportunity for adolescent behavior.

The majority of players were comprised of many of LA's top studio musicians, including concertmaster Paul Shure, and his wife from Seattle, Bonnie Jean Douglas. After being hired at the age of 19, I sat last chair second violins, but was soon offered deliverance into the firsts, and promoted as soloist to appear with oboist Allan Vogel in J.S. Bach's Double Concerto. In those days, I played on a Carl Becker violin that caused grumblings from the first desk players; the violin sounded like a trumpet, and caused my playing to stick out rather than blend. Mean glares from those around me induced me to tears. Now I can laugh; this is memoir material.

There was a certain charm in being part of such a small musical family. Everyone knew everyone's business, and there was nothing more tempting and delicious than to help stir the pot. When one violinist claimed that her head was expanding in size due to a medical condition, we giggled in the bus, while making secret bets whether or not her head might explode. It was our great fortune that we had sympathetic bus drivers. They'd allow  the musicians to smoke weed in the back, and make frequent pit stops for beer. And, of course, there were liaisons; romantic interludes. I was so naive back then. I thought the whole concept of wife-swapping began in LACO. Remember the time we went on the 1980 Winter Olympics tour to Lake Placid and New York City?

The conductor, a ladies man, seemed like a decent guy back then. But then, appearances can be deceiving. Hormones fired up those concerts all right, and  it was truly a school for scandals.
In this photo in 1980 Margaret Moore, Gerard Schwarz, me and Jennifer (Woodward) Munday

No comments:

Post a Comment