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One of his school-mates Andrew Baker Barnes was a popular, if rather ordinary young musician, who teamed up with a young woman attending conservatory in their class, Elizabeth Garrett-Jones. Her father was president of the board of London's Royal Symphonic Society, and before anyone knew quite what was happening, Andrew was the new chief conductor of the RSS. Kevin Riordan, another school friend of theirs, is assistant general manager of the New York Symphony. It's not quite incestuous, but close. Elizabeth had once been almost engaged to Donald, while Andrew had been very close to the same entanglement with Corinne Gates, now a member of the chorus. Corinne and Kevin might be termed as an 'item'. Got that? Musical chairs, that's what it all is!
Now, it's fourteen years after graduation, and even though it was Donald's discovery, Andrew has been brought in to conduct this world première of a Mozart Mass. But Andrew brings along his baggage, which includes the death threats that had been bothering him in London. Extra police are brought in to Carnegie Hall (just about the only real thing in the book) and one, Patrolman Caruso, gives the erstwhile conductor a few lessons during a truly hilarious encounter in the dressing room. Of course, the fact that the patrolman doesn't know what he's talking about is totally beside the point: he was merely repeating bits of gossip he'd heard after the morning rehearsal.
But then, Andrew seldom knows what he's talking about, or listening to, either. Whereas Donald is a very cerebral type of conductor, paying meticulous attention to all the markings on every page, Andrew is the emotional type -- he feels the music. He can read a score, but seldom pays much attention to it. He's not fond of 'new' music, either, so of course, his traditional audiences love him for the preponderance of music by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Brahms that end up on his programs. A world première of a work by Mozart would seem to be right up his alley!
Copyright © 5 February 2007
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA