I'll start. While playing in the Stamford Symphony years ago, Skitch Henderso was our resident conductor and we were playing the 1812.
Now Skitch being Skitch was not content to simply have a recording of canons or shotguns in a barrel for the canon noises, he brought in a bunch of starter's canons from his yacht club and got the officers at West Point to bring in a real Howitzer to shoot during the 1812. Skitch did not fire the canons during the dress rehearsal. Too bad.
When the time came for the guns to go off the yacht club canons were fired and sounded really
good. The hall started to get a little smoky though. Then the Cadets fired off the Howitzer.
I was sitting toward the middle of the seconds when that monster fired. I will admit it was positioned at the outside door aiming outside with police keeping the area clear of people.
The concussion from the canon physically lifted me off the seat. The noise was incredible.
But the smoke from the Howitzer, oh boy, the ever lovin' smoke filled the stage with so much caustic blinding smoke we couldn't see the music. It was a true white out. Couldn't see Skitch, couldn't see the music, couldn't hear a thing, but we kept playing. Oh yes, our coughing also added to the "din of battle."
My wife was the ticket chairman and was standing at the back of the hall. Two cops standing next to her heard the "gunfire" and yelled at her to "get down," drew their guns and ran towards the smoky stage where they thought a gun battle was going on. My wife was able to run after them and stop them before they accidentally
shot a tuba player or someone.
Who knows if we finished together, we couldn't hear. Actually who cares? The audience went nuts
and cheered for what seemed like hours. Skitch was a showman first and a conductor second, but what he did worked.
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