September 26, 2016 at 05:44 AM · I performed in Carnegie Hall as a member of an orchestra a few days ago. I got a "comp" for a guest and on the ticket I noticed an invitation to submit a Carnegie Hall story for their website. Here's what I said:

To the aspiring violin student that I once was and later, to the professional violinist that I became, Carnegie Hall has always represented a very major focal point for the tradition of great musical performances and experiences. A few personal anecdotes stand out in my memory:

I have had the pleasure and privilege to be on the stage of Carnegie Hall a number of times with a few different orchestras. On two occasions, with two different respective orchestras, I served as Concertmaster and had short solos to play. On two other occasions I was granted special permission to play privately on the stage while a colleague listened out in the hall, to help determine the relative projection of violins that I was comparing. Those experiences were strangely thrilling: Here I was in the almost empty legendary hall where Tchaikovsky conducted the inaugural concert, where Heifetz made his incendiary American debut, and I was adding my own sounds as best I could! Exciting and eerie!

Some other colorful experiences happened to me just outside the Hall. Along the side of Carnegie, on 7th Avenue, I have seen a number of celebrities over the years going about their business, including Joe Franklin, Ben Stein and Sigourney Weaver. Honoring New York’s tradition of leaving celebrities alone, I never said anything to them. But once I saw Ravi Shankar and broke with that tradition. As a musician and, it so happened, as a ticket holder to Shankar’s recital for that very evening, I thought it would be OK to greet him and so I did. He was very nice and I told him that I looked forward to his performance later that evening. He thanked me and then asked me if I could do him a favor. I said “certainly, if I can”. He asked “could you direct me to the Artist’s Entrance?” His assistant chimed in “oh, you have forgotten, Panditji!”. I said that I’d be happy to and led the way. When we got to the entrance he asked me my name and thanked me again. I said so long in the traditional Indian way by putting my palms together in a prayerful salute. But he put out his right hand to shake mine, Western style!

Finally, once while walking on 57th Street, on my way to the now sadly defunct music store, “Patelsons” just across the street from the Artists Entrance, a gentleman stopped me and asked me for help. Judging by his manner, accent and confused look, I assumed him to be a tourist from another country and was happy to try to assist him. “What can I do for you?” I asked. And then – I kid you not – he asked THE question: “Could you tell me how I can get to Carnegie Hall?” I paused for a brief moment to offer a silent prayer of gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and – yes, I said it: “Practice, practice, practice!” “Whaaaat???” came the befuddled response. “Sorry, I was joking. We are very close. Just come with me.”

What are some of your interesting experiences in connection to a major hall?

Replies (6)

September 28, 2016 at 12:28 PM · When I was growing up studying the violin, Carnegie Hall was for me the Valhalla of violin students that "made it", a veritable temple for bravura.

My dad played there once (piano), in company with Jaime Laredo, Rostropovich, and Galina Vishnevskaya. I still have the photos of the rehearsals.

September 28, 2016 at 12:40 PM · Raphael - very interesting - nice to read such good memories.

September 29, 2016 at 12:32 PM · Good beginning! Anyone else? It doesn't have to be specifically Carnegie Hall. Anyone else have some interesting, colorful experience in connection with a major hall - whether as a performer or audience member?

September 29, 2016 at 01:05 PM · I had a violin and piano piece premiered in the Weill Recital Hall in April 2014, but the only recording I got was on the pianists phone left in the green room picking up what was coming through the intercom from the stage!

September 29, 2016 at 02:22 PM · A few years ago, when my daughter was in high school, the chamber group she was part of was working with the Kronos Quartet, and they were invited to attend one of their rehearsals before a concert at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) – and I was able to attend as well. We entered via the artist’s entrance, which I thought was especially cool. The piece was Steve Reich’s (powerful) WTC 9/11, and the composer was there, sitting by himself in shadows in the back with his cap on. Took me a few minutes to realize. It was all pretty relaxed and low key, but I loved being one of about 10 people in the large hall, with Steve Reich (way) behind us and the members of the Kronos Quartet rehearsing and asking our opinions about the balance (again, took me a few seconds, raised eyebrows, wide eyes and a finger pointed back at myself, before realizing they were actually asking for our opinion), and then coming off stage and chatting with us. A good day.

September 29, 2016 at 03:32 PM · I have a few:

When I performed at Carnegie Hall under Charles Dutoit, he repeatedly stuck his tongue out and grunted at us when we got to particularly exciting parts in the music. It became harder and harder to keep a straight face.

When I performed at the Kennedy Center under Valery Gergiev, everyone was served a half-done chicken breast beforehand. The principal violist had to run off stage in the middle of the first half of the concert and at first couldn't get the stage hands to let her back stage.

At a school trip to Disney Hall to see the LA Phil rehearse Romeo and Juliet, one of my classmates a few rows behind me repeatedly asked to use the bathroom and was refused by the accompanying teacher. Eventually he decided to just go himself, and in the process he vomited in his seat and on the stair case. There were other schools there watching as well.

During a guided tour of the Wiener Musik-Verein with the European Union Youth Orchestra, I lost my group and ended up missing our bus. I was stranded for a while and as my phone was not working, I had to ask some strangers to use their cellphone to call one of the coordinators, who, needless to say, was not pleased. The bus came back for me and those in my tour group apologized profusely.

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