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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

When the ushers meet the musicians,
plus a review of Joshua Pierce playing Brahms' second piano concerto,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

I'm an usher at an orchestra in the American midwest. We're instructed to leave after performances via the musicians' entrance, and since we've been staring at them for about two hours per night and since we're a friendly bunch we've all tried saying 'hi' or 'good night' in our usual civil way. The musicians are always as horrible to us as possible and so now we hate them, but there's been a crack-down on escaping through the other exits. Can you comment on this situation?

anon in the USA

Dear anon,

I am genuinely shocked by your story. Musicians are generally such friendly people -- at least to outsiders; you'd be amazed how horrible they can be to each other!!!! -- that I find it horrrifying that any orchestral musicians are capable of being viciously and wantonly rude to inoffensive people like ushers.

Anyway, I've thought long and hard about what you ought to do, and it seems to me that there are several possibilities:

  1. You could ask for a meeting with their orchestral manager and politely but firmly point out that you ushers have done nothing to deserve being bad-mouthed by the musicians, and that it has to stop if you guys are to carry on doing your jobs while they carry on doing theirs. (Another method would be to tell the concert hall manager that you and the other ushers would appreciate an exit NOT used by the musicians, as they're so amazingly rude to you guys, and let HIM or HER either take them on -- or let you use another exit.
  2. You could personally just buzz off, get a better job, and leave the bastards to stew in their own juices. I don't see you as being an usher for the rest of your life, anyway.
  3. You could ignore their rudeness completely -- a selective deafness -- while making a point of always leaving with some of your fellow ushers. And, as you leave, you could loudly say to your friends, 'God, the orchestra was on crap form tonight!' -- 'not fair making the poor old audience pay, is it?' ... 'Hey? Whatcha got on your Ipod? -- The Chicago Symphony? Oh yeah, wow, now THAT'S a real orchestra ...' (If by any chance you usher for the Chicago Symphony they'll get mega-cross if you praise the Philadelphia Orchestra ... or any other orchestra, really ...

Yours civilly,

Ask Alice

And now the long-anticipated review of Joshua Pierce's Brahms second piano concerto with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra.

Continue to the Joshua Pierce CD review >>

Copyright © 30 June 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

Ask Alice



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