S.E.M. Ensemble

header photo

Lincoln Center Festival Fiasco: Two Days in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

August, 1996

On Monday, Paula [Cooper] and Jack [Macrae] were coming for dinner.  Charlotta and I were cooking when the phone rang.  Charlotta picked it up and called: "Someone wants to talk to you."  It was Alex Ross from the New York Times.  He had been assigned to cover the Morton Feldman programs at the Lincoln Center Festival, and asked me why wasn't the S.E.M. Ensemble included.  The question surprised me.  I hate to speculate on something like this.  I told him that it was probably an oversight since John Rockwell, the program director of the festival, had been living in Europe for the last seven or eight years and probably didn't know about the recent work we had done in New York with both the Orchestra and the Ensemble.


Then Alex dropped a bomb. He said, "I just learned that the Kronos Quartet canceled their Saturday performance.  I think that you should replace them with your performance of For Philip Guston."   "Yes, we should," I answered quickly.  But that is unlikely to happen.  On the other hand, if you would call them and suggest it, they might consider it. . ." 

"I can't do that!," Alex answered.  "I'm going to cover the concert in the paper, so I can't get directly involved." 

"Of course.  That was a dumb suggestion," I said apologetically. 

"But perhaps you can call Rockwell and talk to him," Alex continued.  "Here is his office number. They might still be there.  I can't give you his home number, but the office number should do.  Please be discrete and don't mention that I called you

"You have my word," I answered.


I immediately called Lincoln Center.  Rockwell wasn't there.  He was at the concert hall, solving some crisis.  I left an urgent message to call me.  "It's about the Kronos cancellation," is all I said.


Paula and Jack arrived and during dinner, I told them what happened.  Paula suggested right away that she will call Rockwell first thing in the morning.  We talked about it a little, and as I thought more about it, the idea of replacing Kronos started to sound quite feasible.  If only someone could persuade Rockwell.  The next morning, I called Rockwell's office again.  He wasn't there.  Both Paula and I left detailed messages with his secretary.  Paula must have become really involved because she already called Rockwell several times. 


I waited for someone from Lincoln Center to call back.  No one did.  At noon, I had an appointment with James Jordan, the head of the Music section at the New York State Council on the Arts.  James was handling our upcoming grant application and I wanted him to come to Brooklyn to see our place, to get a better idea about our work.  I picked him up at the Arts Council on 19th Street and Broadway and brought him to Brooklyn.  We arrived at the SEM office about 12:30pm.


Our meeting lasted about an hour and a half.  As always, James was straight forward about the paperwork, pointing directly to its weaknesses and clarifying how they should be corrected.  The problems were in the form, not in the content. 

"Quality of work is 50% of the whole thing," he said.  "With you, that is a given.  I have an audit of your concert at the Lincoln Center last March and it is absolutely excellent.  I wouldn't be here talking to you, otherwise.  But look at page four.  The way you answered the first question about your Board of Directors--you can do much better than that."  

"Let me see."  I answered. 

Herman Gersten, who was assisting in the office, also got a copy. All three of us were looking at the spot in the application. "The ethnic composition of your Board," James continued, "everybody on the Board is white, so don't make circles around it.  Say it directly, and also say that you're trying to diversify the Board ethnically." 

Instead of answering the question directly, we explained that our Board does not have any honorary positions and that a membership on the Board is connected with the willingness on the part of its members to assist SEM.  Ethnic background has nothing to do with it.  James explained how, when he started to work at the Arts Council, the New York Philharmonic Board was all white males, and now they are diversified, which is to their advantage.  I agreed, but to compare the Philharmonic Board to the SEM Board is completely off the mark.

 "You know," I said, "when I hear these things about ethnicity and so forth, I get terribly upset.  I just despise these questions and that is why our answers are not the way they should be.  But we can fix that." 

"Do it please." he said. 

Then we talked about other aspects of the application, which needed corrections, including our projected budget. It was way too high.


When James was about to leave, we talked about various things including the Kronos cancellation, which he knew about from the morning paper. 

"You should be doing your long Feldman instead," he said before I had the chance to tell him about what was going on." 

"Yes," I replied, "there is an effort to make this happen.  Paula Cooper is trying to reach Rockwell and so am I.  We haven't heard from him yet. 

"I'll talk to him," James suggested. 

"That's very nice," I replied.  "Would you like to call him right now?" 

"Oh no, it's not necessary, I'll call him later today when I get home." James replied, "I know John well. I'll talk to him." 

"But it has to be decided right away, otherwise there won't be enough time to make the switch especially in regard to publicity." 

"Listen," he said, "the Times can carry a story tomorrow if they get the information at midnight.  That should not be a problem."  I promised to drive James back to Manhattan and we were about to leave when the phone rang.


It was Rockwell.  I covered the receiver and whispered to Jordan, "It's Rockwell on the phone."  Rockwell went right to the point.  "Here is the situation," he said: "the Kronos concert has been canceled as you know, it was already announced in the press.  We can reinstate it, but our problem is that we absolutely cannot risk losing money on it.  I spoke at length with Paula Cooper and if your patrons can underwrite any possible losses, we can go ahead and reschedule it with the S.E.M. Ensemble performing For Philip Guston." 

"How much are you talking about?" I inquired. 

"At Alice Tully Hall, it would be about $20,000.  If we sell out the hall, which is unlikely I think, then, we are covered, but if only 100 people show up, then we have a huge problem." 

"Didn't you have a budget to cover the Kronos concert?" I asked.  "Yes," he replied. "but this money is gone.  You see, we are presently incurring such an immense deficit that this so called money did not actually exist.  By cancelling the concert, we will just have a smaller deficit.  To do For Philip Guston with you is a very good idea and I would very much like to do it, but I cannot risk any financial losses." 

"What about doing the concert elsewhere?" I inquired.  "In a way, Alice Tully Hall is not the most appropriate hall for this type of music.  Guston needs a more reverberant hall, something like a church.  We perform so softly, that it needs the acoustical help of reverberant hall." 

"How reverberant?" Rockwell asked. 

"The more, the better," I answered

"We have a relationship with St. Paul the Apostle Church and it has a very long echo, about 7 seconds.  Would that be OK?" 

"That would be great" I answered.

"Let me go over the numbers and I'll call you right back." Rockwell hung up the phone.


When I envisioned about the possibility of substituting for Kronos at the Lincoln Center Festival, I did not think about money at all.  But expected a situation, in which we could perhaps, for the first time in the U.S., get a decent fee.  After all, it is an enormous work and we are one of two groups in the world who is able to perform this five-hour long piece, and we just played it in Europe last month.  The Kronos quartet refused to do it, probably because they discovered how difficult it is after they began to rehearse it.  Being faced with the economics of the whole thing was quite a surprise.  Lincoln Center would schedule us if we pay for it?  $20,000?   They must be out of their mind.  I told James that they wanted $20,000 in guaranteed income from us and that this is out of question.  He shook his head. " They must be kidding," he remarked.  "I think that the whole thing is off.  This would not work out.  We'll see.  He may call back with another possibility," I concluded. 


While we were talking, getting ready to leave, the phone rang. It was Rockwell again.  I sensed that this will be a longer conversation, so I took the phone to another room and left James talking with Herman.

"Now, be careful about what you say, so you don't feel sorry later," Rockwell said. 

"What kind of budget would you need to do the performance?" he asked. 

It started to sound like there is a real chance to perform Guston at the festival after all.  So I said, "We are obviously very interested to do it, and we will do anything we can to make it happen.  The money question is secondary, so why don't you tell me what kind of fee could you offer.  I am certain that we will come to an agreement." 

"How large is the group?" Rockwell asked. 

Just three of us: Joseph Kubera on piano and celeste, Chris Nappi on percussion, and myself on flutes and piccolo.  Rockwell was pleased. 

"I'll call you right back. Don't go anywhere, it'll just be a few minutes."


I apologized to James for the delay and he agreed to wait a few more minutes for us to go back.  Shortly Rockwell rang back. 

"Here is the situation," he said.  To get the St. Apostel Church would cost us us about $9,000.  Then we have to add a fee for you.  How much would that be?"

"You also must calculate the costs of renting the percussion instruments." I said.

 "No, no," he interrupted, "this is already included.  The $9,000 covers everything."  "Our fee requirenment is minimal" (I was thinking, we've got to make it happen!) "I am willing to perform without any fee, but Joe and Chris must be paid.  I think that $500 each would do." 

"So, we are now at a cost of $10,000." Rockwell said.  "But remember, this may not be needed, perhaps just apart of it.  If only 100 people show up, at $20 a ticket, that will make a deficit of $8,000.  It we sell 400 tickets, we'll break even, and there is a real possibility for that.  We will have full-fledged advertising campaign.  The Times will come out on Thursday with an announcement about this concert, and on Friday we will carry a full-page ad with this concert prominently displayed.  So chances are that we may break even.  And if we make a profit, we'll split it with you.  Our problem is, at this moment, we cannot risk any losses." 

"Look," I replied, "I simply cannot ask anyone to underwrite the whole amount.  I can't even contemplate such a thing. It would look as if we are giving a free concert to Lincoln Center.  There would be no incentive for you to make an effort to properly advertise it, etc.  I trust you completely, but it simply does not look good.  I cannot go to our supporters and ask for that kind of help.  Couldn't we find a level of ticket income under which you will be risking a loss as well, say in the middle?" 

"That sounds reasonable," Rockwell answered.  "If we split it in half, and take a risk for the first $5,000, all we would need from you is a guarantee for the top $5,000.  Again, we may not need it, or not all of it.  But for us to ahead, we must get this guarantee from you.  If we loose $6,000 on the event, than we are in it for $1,000 and you will have to come up with $5,000.  You understand that, don't you?  Talk to Paula, talk to a few other SEM supporters and see what you can come up with.  Call me as soon as you know something.  In the meanwhile, I will check on the availability of the church.  There is a mass there in the early evening, but perhaps they will agree not do the mass.  Last Monday, when we used the church, they also canceled their mass.  We should start the concert about one hour later than we planned the Kronos concert, so that the people who will show up at Alice Tully can be redirected to St. Paul and will have time to get there."


I thanked James for being patient.  "I had talk to Rockwell, time is running short."  James understood but became a little restless.  The phone rang.  It was Victor Bloom, a composer whom I saw the day before and who was supposed to come at 2p.m. to work with me on a grant application for a new project. 

He said "I'll be late. 

"Great," I repied, "be late, please."  "How late?" he asked.  "Come 3p.m.,at the earliest."


Next, I called Alex Ross at home and to my amazement, he picked up the phone.  I thought that I should know what the chances were for properly announcing our concert in the Times before starting to beg for money.  When asking for money, I must be able to offer as realistic a situation as possible. If we can get the right publicity, it would maximize the chances for a good audience and minimize the financial risk.  Alex said "Of course, there will be a good-size announcement in tomorrow's paper about the concert if we can get it on time.  However, I can't do any previewing, because I will be writing the review."  "Of course," I replied.  I just wanted to know the situation before starting to work on all the logistics, which have to be solved in order to make the final decision.  I am not trying to put any pressure on you and I really appreciate your help."  He understood.


After that, I called Paula. "So, how are things going? Did you talk to John?" she asked.

"I just got off the phone with him.  The money they had allocated for the Kronos concert disappeared to offset their deficit.  They can't afford to risk loosing a penny on this one.  They want us to underwrite a guarantee for possible losses so that if there are not enough tickets sold, we will make up the difference."  When I finished, there was a silence - "That's terrible'" Paula replied.

"It is strange, isn't it?" I said. 

"How much do they need?" Paula asked. 

"$5,000. But that doesn't mean that we will end up having to come up with this amount.  Hopefully, the concert will break even and nothing will be needed, but whatever we commit, we will have to be ready to pay.  I just talked to the Times again and it seems that there will be adequate publicity for us, so there is a good chance to fill the hall.  Would you be able to help?" I asked. 

"You know that my budget is stretched to the limits because of moving the gallery," She paused.

"I'll give you $2,000, you terrible man.  The dinner was very nice yesterday.  Say hello to Charlotta."

"Thank you very much," I said.  "Where are you going to get the rest of the money?  Who else could help?" she inquired, "what about Sheldon?" 

"I've been thinking of calling him about it." I said. 

"Good," she said.  "I'll tell him you suggested that I ask him for help."  She laughed.


I was finaly able to drive James back to Manhattan. 


When I came back to the office, Victor had already arrived and there was a message from Rockwell.  They went over the budget again and the amount needed from us was now down to $4,500 from $5,000.  It became clear that Rockwell was doing his best make this happen and didn't see a big problem in getting the money together.  It looked more and more realistic that the concert will happen.  I told Victor all that has been happening since the previous evening and apologized for the delay.  He did't seem to mind.


I called Chris Nappi.  "Yes, I'm free on the weekend," he said.  "What is it about?"

"I can't talk about it at this moment but I'll be in touch," I said apologetically.  "I just needed to know that you were free."  Chris lives two blocks away from SEM and stores his instruments at our studio.  I see him all the time, so I wasn't concerned about finding him later.

Next I called Sheldon in Buffalo.  He was surprised to hear from me.  We hadn't spoken in some time and Sheldon inquired about Charlotta and the boys. 

"I'm calling you because we need your help'" I said. I explained the whole Lincoln Center situation.  "Sure," he said, "I'll contribute $500." 

"Oh, thank you so much!" I replied.  I was very pleased the way things were going.


I called Rockwell right away.  "I've got $2500, and I don't think that there will a problem to get the rest of the finances together." 

"There is a new problem," Rockwell said, "but I don't think that it is insurmountable.  I want to assure you that we really want to do it.  The mass at the church cannot be cancelled.  It's a very important mass for the church.  They start about 5p.m. and afterwards the congregation usually hangs around to have coffee, so they'll be using the church until about 6:15.  By the time we get to start setting the stage, tune the piano, and give you few minutes to check the hall, it'll be quite late.  I don't think that we'll be able to start before 7:30, at the earliest.  My technical crew, on the other side, has to be finished by midnight.  So this is a real problem.  But we are working on it.  Anyway, you still don't have all the money together, so let's see what happens."


I called Joe Kubera to see if he would be available on Saturday.  "Of course," he replied.  I also explained the financial situation and assured him that no matter what, he would get paid, but it will not be a fee one would hope for in this kind of situation.  He understood.


In the meanwhile, I started to work on the grant application with Victor.  Victor Bloom is a composer, a graduate from Yale and UCSD.  He was in Frederic Rzewski's class at Yale and one day when Rzewski could not make it, I was asked to sub for him.  That is when Victor and I met.  All I remembered from the class was a lunch afterwards.  The students must have liked the session, because they invited me to lunch at the local diner. There, we got to talk about the real situation for a composer outside the academia, and I remember how astonished I was to find that none of the students, and they were supposed to be the cream of the crop, had any idea about what it takes to function as a composer outside the school.  Victor wrote me a letter in Spring, seeking a contact with me.  I have been desperately looking for an assistant at SEM for some time and I thought, judging from his letter, that he was looking for an opportunity to do work in a meaningful environment with a chance to have his music performed.  I met with Victor early in the Summer and explained to him that I was looking for someone who would get involved with SEM.  He didn't react at all.  It made perfect sense to me that someone like Bloom would benefit by getting involved with us.  His music wasn't bad at all, but I couldn't really judge from the recordings he sent me.


I was touring in the early part of the summer, and when I got back, I called Victor.  An opportunity arose for the S.E.M. Orchestra to initiate a program of reading new scores by mostly young and emerging composers.  It would give the orchestra an opportunity to work more regularly and would also give to various composers a chance to hear their pieces.  Who knows, perhaps some interesting music might surface.  It certainly would be a challenge and little bit of an adventure to initiate such a project.  But the idea of starting something new bothered me a lot.  I needed to find someone to help me with it and Bloom looked like a good prospect.  I met with him on Monday and told him what it was about and he said yes, he would prepare the application letter and come the next day.  Here he was. 


We worked on the text, and when we finished we talked about SEM in general.  When I asked him whether he would like to get actively involved, he replied, "You know, I have two places, one in the City and one upstate, and then there's my dog.  I am quite busy.  I have to juggle my schedule between the dog and my therapist.  So I can help you occasionally."  "This sounds too charitable," I answered. "If you want to work with me, you would have to make a commitment to it.  This is not about me. I don't want you to help me at all.  You must be able to make a commitment to the work which we are doing, to SEM."


He looked at me across the table and said "In that case, I have to say no.  I have to have, first of all, a commitment to myself.  I am already 40 years old, and I cannot commit myself to anything like that.  Please, understand that this has really nothing to do with you.  I find you very pleasant and your energy is very admirable, but I can't do it."  When he was leaving, he looked at me intently and said, "I just turned 40! Do you know what that means?"  I could not answer him.  I really didn't know what he was talking about.


Shortly after Bloom left, Alex Ross called. 

"How is the situation?" he asked. 

"Good, I think." I said.  "I think that it will happen. There were some financial problems, but they have been largely solved.  Then there is a scheduling problem with St. Paul's church, but Rockwell thinks that this can be solved too.  What is your deadline for getting an announcement in the paper tomorrow?" I asked. 

"I don't know exactly, but we're very close to it." By that time it was almost 4:30pm.

"I better call Rockwell to find out.  Maybe I can get the information from him." 

"Now, be careful," I remarked.  "If you call Rockwell, I think that he will figure that it was you who called me yesterday."  "That is true," Alex replied.  "But I'll do it anyway.  We've got to move forward on this as fast as we can."


I called Tom Buckner’s office in New York hoping that he would be able to contribute the rest of the money. He was in Berlin and his office gave me his hotel phone number.

"How are you?" he asked when I reached him few minutes later. "When are you coming over?"  "Sometime next week." I answered.


I was to go on the 8th of August to start rehearsing The Manhattan Book of the Dead, a chamber opera by David First, a production at Waschhaus in Potsdam near Berlin. 


I explained to Tom about Linclon Center and told him that we still need $2000 in guarantees.

"You have it, he answered after a brief silence, "but it may not be necessary, isn't that the case?" he asked.

"I hope that it won't be necessary." I answered. They already sold 250 tickets and I don't think that there will be many returns."

I finally had the entire amount together. We left it at that.


Alex called back in about half an hour. 

"They can't say definitely if the concert is on or not.  So we have to wait until tomorrow.  To put an announcement in the Thursday paper will still be OK. Let's wait until tomorrow.  I hope that it will resolve itself positively."

"It looks like it will."  I replied.


I called Rockwell.  I was not sure that he will still be there.  It was getting late and his staff was probably gone. He picked up the phone direcly. 

"I have the money together." I said, I was anxious to resolve the situation. 

"This is great," Rockwell said, "I thought that you only have $2,500."  Now I have to just run everything by Nathan Leventhal, the President of Lincoln Center, and fix the situation with the church.  I have to tell you there are still problems there, but I think they are manageable.  You see, the church has a service on Saturday and by the time they are out it will be about 6:15pm.  We should have to tune the piano and set up the stage in the afternoon, then move everything out for the mass and then move it back after the mass.  The piano will have to be tuned again and you have to have 15 minutes, or so, to get used to the hall.  We can't start before 7:30p.m.  That would get us past midnight and my crew must be out of there by midnight." 

"We may be able to start perhaps at 7:00." I suggested. 

"This is still too close," he replied.  But if St. Paul the Apostle does not work out, we can surely find another church in the neighborhood.  There are three or four other churches here where we can do it.  We never worked with them, so we prefer St. Paul, but it is feasible to do it elsewhere.  We'll resolve it in the morning.  I want you to understand that we want very much to do it." 

"How are we going to do the publicity?" I inquired.  "Shouldn't we start to work on the press release right now?" 

"This is premature," he replied. 

"But if we prepare it now, we will have it ready to go."  I replied.  "I can prepare all the information from our end and get it to you tomorrow."  "That's a very good idea," Rockwell said.  "Have it delivered to my office tomorrow morning.  We will print a very nice program, not a Playbill, of course, it's too late for that, but it will look nice.  Have all the credits ready to be included in the program.  I'll call you tomorrow as soon as I know something."


I tried to work on the publicity material, but I was totaly exhausted.  I went home, recovered a little and started to put all the publicity material together.  The time factor made me nervous.  If Rockwell has the crew finish by midnight, it will be impossible with the mass ending so late.  Then I went over our last Guston performance in Berlin six weeks ago .  I realized that it only lasted four hours and twenty minutes.  Where did the five-hour duration come from?  It must have been from our 1988 performances.  With time, our performances became smoother and slightly faster.  Any small deviation makes a big difference in such a long piece.


Wednesday morning I got up very early and started immediately to work on the publicity material, hoping to finish it soon.  The phone didn't ring, so I called Rockwell's office, but he was at a meeting.  I left a message with his secretary about the revised duration of the piece.  Then I continued with SEM work, preparing two grant applications which were due next day.  One was to the Greenwall Foundation for the new project I was working on with Victor Bloom, the other was for Philip Morris Corporation. I was practically finished with both applications when Rockwell called.


"Here is the situation," he said.  "We have to start the concert at at 8:30." 

"But that will keep us very late," I objected. 

"No, no," he explained. "It doesn't matter. I was thinking about it." he continued, "The hard core New York audience which will come to this Feldman will stay late, and we need adequate time to prepare the stage.  There will be overtime pay for the technical crew, but it will be manageable.  We have, however, another problem.  Leventhal thinks - and I don't share his view - that even though we have a guarantee of not losing any money on this concert, that it will take some audience away from the other Feldman events, and that in the end, it will be a loss for us.  I think that we can persuade him that this is not the case.  All of us here believe that the Guston piece will have its special audience and that whoever decides to go to this kind of a marathon is not going to exchange the experience for a regular concert. Anyway, I will talk to him right after he comes back from lunch. Hopefuly, I can change his mind.  Where is the publicity material?  I thought that we agreed that you will bring it this morning." 

"I was still working on it and also I waited for your call."  I replied. 

"Have it here by 3p.m.  Leventhal will be back from lunch and we'll resolve the situation.  We have to know tomorrow, early in the morning, at the latest."


I drove up to Lincoln Center and about a 1:45, I was sitting in Rockwell's office. 

"The situation doesn't look good,"  he began.  "St. Paul the Apostel will not allow us to do anything there.  The Saturday mass is a big affair, and the man who is in charge of coordinating special events at the church is leaving on vacation on Friday.  The church simply does not want to be bothered."  

"What about the Ethical Society?" I asked. 

"But you said that you wanted to have it in a church."  Rockwell objected. 

"Yes, but this is better than nothing.  Besides, the Ethical Society's hall has very nice acoustics.  It is, in a way, a church, too." 

"But how can we fit in?" Rockwell remarked. "The Essential Orchestra rehearses is there until 7pm, and Joan La Barbara's rehearsal is from 7 to 9." 

"Can't Joan move it to some other time?" I asked.  Perhaps we can work it out." 

"Hang on," Rockwell replied.  He took the phone and called Joan.  Nobody was there, so he left an urgent message on her answering machine.  "As you heard, I just left a message at Joan's New York's place.  We will continue to work on it and I'll call you as soon as we decide what to do.  Please understand that we want very much to do it.  All my staff has been working on it for the past two days."


I left rather depressed.  Driving back to Brooklyn, I was thinking about how to save the situation.  I did not want to believe that something as trivial as problems with rehearsal time ca kill the whole thing. 


When I arrived at the office, Herman was already there, to assist with office work.  "Don't drive yourself crazy with this. Is it worth it?" he said when he saw me. 

"Are you kidding?" I exclaimed.  "The Kronos cancellation is a big disappointment and if we are given a chance to perform a similarly long and difficult piece on three days notice, it could mean a lot for the Ensemble.  Just think about it."


I set out to help finding a suitable church space to do the concert.  Time was running short, that was the worst part of it.  The church where the Jupiter Symphony performs would be ideal.  It is right next to Lincoln Center, it almost looks like a part of it.  Why didn't we try to get it in the first place.  I should have tried that and a backup.  I remembered saving a program from a Jupiter Symphony concert which I attended in May.  There must be a phone number for the church, or at least for the Jupiter orchestra.  Only if I can find the program.  I couldn't find it.  Then I remembered that the Cary Trust was listed as one of the donors.  I called Gayle Morgan at the Trust and asked her for the Jupiter phone number.


"Does it have anything to do with the Kronos cancellation?" she asked. 

"Yes," I said, "but I can't talk to you about it now.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow." 

I called the Jupiter, but there was only an answering machine.  I left a message, but had little hope that they would call right back.  They were probably closed for the Summer.  Next, I tried to get the phone number for the Church of the Good Shepard.  There were several churches by that name in the phone book.  I called a number, which seemed to be the right one.  Everybody was already gone for the day.  I insisted that I must talk to someone, so finally I got through to a pastor.  After explaining him what it was about, he realized that I was calling the wrong Church.  How can I find the right number?   Maybe I have the wrong name.  Who could help me?  Then I remembered that Chad Alexander, a bassoonist who performed with us, also played with The Jupiter.  I called him, but he couldn't remember the church's name either. 

"I'll call you right back after I'll find a program.  I have it somewhere here." 

It was indeed the Church of the Good Shepard but Chad had only the address, not a phone number.  I called information and they found the Church with the right address.  I called, but there was an answering machine with a message in Spanish.  My efforts hit a wall. I gave up. I just had to wait and see what will happen.  I was quite depressed.  I was less and less confident that it will work out. 


Finally, Rockwell called.  "I'm terribly sorry, but it didn't work out." he said.  "We tried everything.  The Ethical Society will not allow us to use the auditorium past midnight.  Their security people must leave by then, and they won't allow us to handle the concert without their people present.  We tried to find another Church in the neighborhood and called all of them. None answered.  Now it's too late for us to go to a totally new place where we have no working relationship.  The technical crew would have to check the facility, see if we can move a piano in, the lighting, and all that, while attending to 17 other events which are running at the same time.  It's just an impossible situation.  We wanted to do it so much, but it didn't work out. I am sorry."


When he hung up, I was both sad and relieved.  Relieved because the ordeal was over, and depressed because it was such a failure.  And it didn't have to be so.  If I knew yesterday morning that the most important thing was to find a space, I am sure that we could have found one of the Churches in the area willing to host the concert, but now it was too late.  Rockwell was right. There was no way to organize it from scratch starting as late as Wednesday afternoon.  I called the musicians and told them about the cancellation.  I only reached Chris.  He wasn't thrilled.  Then I called Paula. 

"I know what happened. Rockwell called me." she said. "It's too bad, I'm sorry." 

"What can we do?"  I asked.  "I guess I just have to switch gears and concentrate on the next project." 

"Which is?" 

"The opera I'm conducting in Berlin." 

"When are you leaving?  You just got back from Europe." 

"Next Week." 

"So good luck.  It was good for something.  Rockwell now knows much more about your work than he did before."  She said.


I called Alex Ross to thank him for thinking of us. 

"I heard," he said.  He sounded disappointed. 

"I just want to thank you for bringing this to our attention." I said.  Today at noon, it started to look for the first time as if it wouldn't happen and so I felt pretty depressed.  Now, I'm sort of relieved.  It's as if one witnesses a death.  The dying process is much harder to take than the resolution." 


Thursday, August 1, 1996