It's amazing what a group of people can do in a short time when they put their collective mind to it. In the past two weeks the musicians, shut out by their own board and management, went into action and self-produced two concerts, a family concert Friday and a tour de force Saturday in Vets Memorial Auditorium.
Ten days ago we didn't even know who the conductors would be. Nor did we know where we would get stands and chairs, or who would be generous enough to let us borrow the music we needed. We didn't have a way to sell tickets, or a box office of any sort. We had no stage crew, and no insurance for the concerts in case someone got injured. Boy, did we learn fast!
With the untiring focus of our "concerts committee", formed of a dozen or so musicians from the orchestra, the concerts seemed to take shape out of thin air. As I read the email reports, I offered to help, and became involved with centralizing the coordination of volunteers. When Donna Gerhold of the Women's Association of the CSO, emailed me offering to help, I seized on the opportunity. A few days later, I phoned my friend Jayne Gocken to ask if she would volunteer. Jayne used to run the Granville Symphony, and so has a lot experience working the front of the auditorium as the audience arrives. She jumped on it and shot off a list of questions to me which lead to some very useful outcomes, such as passing clipboards around to gather contact information from supporters so we can notify them of future events.
After one orchestra meeting, David Edge, a violinist in the orchestra, offered to go to Staples to buy the clipboards and lined paper for the signup lists. That was the day before the first concert. Things seemed to fall into place.
The concert itself went very smoothly, with E.J. Thomas as MC introducing each piece from the podium, with Jaime Morales-Matos leading the orchestra through vigorous and exciting tempos, with the heart-felt ceremonial presentation of a plaque from the Musicians of the Columbus Symphony to Marines from the Lima Company for proud service to their country, down to the excited applause between each piece and at the end.
Several musicians commented that the acoustics were not as bad as we remembered it, having rehearsed there for some Picnic with the Pops events. If we could move forward on the stage, toward the audience, the hall would fill with our music even better. The reverb (sound feedback from the hall) was not bad, a bit harsh, but better than the Ohio Theater. The stage of Vets Memorial is also suitably wide to allow the orchestra to spread out, which is the normal configuration for orchestras allowing more of the sound to get off the stage. (Unlike the box shape of the Ohio Theater stage, which bounces much of the sound back into the orchestra, rather than out to the audience. In other words, the Ohio Theater doesn't give the patron their money's worth.)
Considering the cavernous size of the auditorium (3600 seats) and a week's notice for publicity, we had a good crowd, over 1500. Just think what will happen when we REALLY plan it ahead and have learned from this experience. I hope you are able to join us for our next thrilling concert!