Gig stories

The IDRS Forum is an archived resource. Some boards will remain open for discussions. Visit the Marketplace to list items for sale, or the Community Events and Openings page to list and search job openings, community shared events, and educational openings. Visit the IDRS Fingering page to search and suggest fingerings.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
  • Author
  • #88243
    Carolyn Hiestand

    Greetings, double-reeders! I know that all of us have some wild stories to share about things that have happened at gigs, so let’s hear some. For starters, I’ll share something which happened at an outdoor wedding where my quintet played last Friday:

    The wedding was held in a large forest park. The bridesmaids arrived via motor vehicle to the clearing where the wedding was to be held (in a very remote area far off the beaten path), and the bride and maid of honor were to arrive via horse-drawn carriage. When we saw the bridesmaids lining up, we began playing the Pachebel Canon, a great piece for those occasions when you don’t know how long you will have to play. They marched in and there they stood…and stood…and stood, waiting for the bride. Fortunately we were using an arrangement of the Canon which gave each instrument a few measures of rest every now and then, because this was turning into a marathon by the time the bride showed up — brought in by someone’s car. It seems that the carriage had departed from the lodge on schedule, and they were about 2/3 of the way to the clearing when the horse suddenly DIED! When the bride had not arrived within a reasonable amount of time, someone drove out to investigate. They rescued her and the wedding proceeded without further incident. I am amazed that the poor girl was able to keep her composure — I think I would have considered it a bad omen and would have turned tail and fled into the forest!

    For you veterinary and/or medical types, it seems that the horse had a carotid hemorrhage secondary to guttural pouch mycosis. It was not a pretty sight, but fortunately it was far enough away that the guests didn’t have to witness the mess.

    And the quintet played on…

    Carolyn Hiestand

    Rikard Peterson


    Patricia Emerson Mitchell

    Heh … great story, in a sort of twisted way. I, too, would probably freak over a dead horse (and I’m not even an animal lover). Yikes!

    I’m going to have to think on the whole story thing; I have some that I simply have to keep to myself for safety’s sake (and employment’s sake). But I suppose I can come up with a few eventually.

    Of course there are a good number of pit stories; dancers dancing their way into the pit and singers sliding across the stage to land in the pit. :-)

    Hayley Canterbury

    A few years back my college theatre department presented “She Loves Me” as their spring musical. The story revolves around a perfumery so the props were all old perfume bottles/bath goodies etc. We were playing one of the numbers where the cast has to run around in a shopping frenzy…well, one of the “shoppers” was quite enthusiastic, so much that her bag went flying and a bar of soap hit me in the back of the head.

    Bought a goldfish one time too, and he sat in his little bowl under my chair in the orchestra pit for the duration of “Nutcracker.”

    Not half as good as the wedding story…maybe I’ll get a few better gig stories in the years to come.

    Claire Binkley

    Got a million of them.

    The first one that comes to mind was that when I was in Chester County Youth Orchestra, we were playing Dance of the Reed Flutes for a dress rehearsal (where I, the lovely and beautiful second oboist [gotta juice up the story a little] play six grand notes). I was sitting next to the English horn player, and we both had our instruments across our laps. I was really happy because I had tied my first reed ever just the day before and it was immediately my favorite. He lifted his horn for a solo……

    …and the bell connected with my reed.


    My very first reed lasted two days.

    I learned to always take the reed out when putting the oboe across your lap, or just to hold it horizontally altogether.

    Carolyn Hiestand

    No dead horses this time, but another of God’s “special” creatures was involved: I was playing an outdoor concert with a metropolitan band and we were doing the band arrangement of selections from “Fiddler on the Roof”. There was a bee hovering about, and it lit on my chest in a rather, um, sensitive area — just before that huge oboe solo in the “Sabbath Prayer” song. I played the solo from memory while keeping one eye on the conductor and the other on the bee, holding my body as still as possible, and all the while praying that it wouldn’t sting me during my solo. That was one of the longest solos of my career, or so it seemed! Just as the solo ended, the bee moved on to pester the brass section, leaving my bosom intact but my nerves shattered.

    Ian White

    Was in the pit for Guys & Dolls with one of my local amateur operatic groups. During the finale of the final performance the trombonist (miming) of the stage band got a bit excited & let go of the slide which flew into the pit & embedded itself in the side of one of the violins – if it had been a couple of inches to the right it would have ended up in the player instead.

    I won’t tell the story of the wasp that did strike me or where – it wasn’t at a musical event so is not appropriate here. :)


    Kent Moore

    Hi Ian:
    Thanks for your story. I just wanted to tell you that the link to your website isn’t working for me. Take care, Kent

    Ian White

    Thanks for pointing out about the link to my web site – have corrected the details.


    Dawn Striker-Allan

    I love these stories!

    I was soloing on a concert once at a music educators convention several years ago. The concert was in a ballroom so there was no backstage area or stage hands. I had to carried my stand out so I went ahead and walked out on stage while the conductor was announcing the next piece. (Unfortunately, I was out one piece too early!) The conductor paused, looked over at me and said, in a stage whisper,”NOT YET!” The crowd laughed and I picked up my stand and headed back off the stage. My husband, always the supportive spouse, started clapping for me as I walked off so, of course, I did a little bow and laughed. The funny thing was, when I finally played (at the correct time), it was probably one of the best performances I’ve ever had… I wasn’t nervous – I figured I’d already made a big fool out of myself so things could only get better. Maybe I should create a new technique based on this idea! ;-)


    Janet Lanier

    Great stories here…. but the horse story gets my vote so far.

    I used to have a trio (ob, vln, harp) that played weddings. The violinist and I had just purchased these beautiful gowns to wear for gigs which set us back mucho $$$. We felt very elegant playing at this grand wedding until our violinist said, “Pssst, look at the groom’s mother.” I looked over and the groom’s mother was wearing the same dress we had on. After playing the wedding ceremony, we discreetly left and tried to stay as far away from the groom’s mother as possible. Hopefully not many people noticed the similarity but I’m sure the groom’s mother did.

    Lynn Hansen

    Yeah, the dead horse story is still in first place, definitely. I have two traumatic musical memories that spring to mind.

    The first was as a HS junior. I was on crutches for six weeks having sprained my ankle during a basketball game. Of course, our winter concert occurred during that time. We in the middle of a piece when my reed split down the middle and dropped about a quarter step in pitch. Where were my back-up reeds? Right, in the band room. So I hobbled through the band on crutches while everyone was playing to retrieve my reed case so I could play up to pitch on my “big solo” in the next piece. My band conductor later pointed out that waiting until the piece ended and sending an able-footed classmate might have had more dignity than the Vaudeville routine I played out for the audience…

    The second time was 10-12 years ago during one of our holiday concerts with full-orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists. This time, in mid-piece, the dreaded water dragon appeared in my side 8va key AND third space C. The Schubert (not Mozart,if memory serves) Ave Maria was the next piece, during which I had the entire 2nd verse as a beautifully ornamented solo. After a few frantic tries I could not clear the tone holes, so I swapped oboes with my totally empathetic section mate. The first verse was sung beautifully by our soprano soloist. As we played the 1st ending to repeat back for my 2nd verse solo I discovered–to my horror–that the oboe I panic-borrowed also had water in third space C (but at least the side 8va was clear). Spontaneously I switched to a half-holed low C fingering for all third space C’s, which necessitated moving all E-flats to the left, which had me shifting from left to right E-flat within the duration of the note every time I needed to get to left hand F. I had to compensate for the sharpness of that alt. C fingering, and constantly look ahead to choose my new E-flat and F fingerings. It was very nerve wracking and by the time I finished the verse I was really rattled. As I whined my apology to the conductor (who is a good friend) after the concert he said, “It was water in the hole…that’ all…just water in the hole… Let’s go have a drink.” By the time I finished that cognac, my easy-going demeanor had been restored.

    Hayley Canterbury

    My junior year in college, we played Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” and the mayhem which ensued was priceless. Not only did our choral director and theatre director hate each other, the choral director also disliked all the instrumental music majors who were there in the pit.

    During the end of intermission, the conductor decides to visit the restroom. Well, if you know this work, it starts with the narrator saying “Once upon a time” and then the orchestra comes in. Well, we came in on time, and the conductor came back about two songs later…walking in front of the cast and then down into the pit!!

    On the night of the last performance, he managed to offend the two horn players so badly that they (albeit unprofessionally) left during intermission. Since I was the only one with an empty space here and there, I had to cover as many of their solos as I could on my bassoon for the rest of the show!

    :) Didn’t rain on my parade…I had always wanted to play that nice horn lick during the witch’s solo anyway…

    Candi Morris

    One of the worst gigs I remember playing was with my woodwind trio. It was a wedding…outdoors, in mid-Ohio, in late October. Now, October in Ohio can be unpredictable, that is certain. But, top it off with the wedding being in an unprotected area, next to a lake. And, the temp. could not have been above 45 degrees. Our contract stated we would play in such conditions, so their solution was to place what amounted to a flame thrower with a fan a few feet from us, with instructions to only turn it on right before we were to play! Now, a fan and an oboe are bad enough…but, going from 45-70 degrees in a matter of seconds, not to mention the roaring sound of this contraption…not a pleasant memory, to say the least! Oh, and did I mention the dive-bombing of random geese headed towards the lake?!

    But, my favorite part of this story is not the “discomfort” we musicians felt. The bride wore a sleeveless gown with a fur wrap. But, during the ceremony, in order to show off the gown…she DIDN’T wear the wrap! And…even better…the reception was to be held outside by the lake as well! Let’s just say that a few folks left before the festivities began!

    Eddie Cabrera

    Evening fellow dreeders,
    My favorite experience was a tour in Spain, as part of the Music festival in Madrid, I performed the Mozart and Weber bassoon concertos.

    There were a total of 5 orchestras. Each from the major conservatorys from Japan, Russia, Spain, Germany, Brazil. I was the only one that could speak both spanish and english.

    At the end of the concert series, we all went to the plaza to drink Sangria and eat chorizo. At @ 2:00 a.m., the spaniards and I sarted singing Franky’s New York, New York. At the end of the night, @ 200 musicians from all over the world, in their best accents were singing along.

    Best sign of brotherhood I’ve experienced in my life.

    Happy bassooning,

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.