Sunday, 1 March 2009

Boozy Basoonists

"The charge M'Lud is that on August 31st, the accused was drunk in charge of his instrument"

An unlikely scenario? Perhaps not, according to the revelation this week that binge drinking amongst members of Britain's leading orchestras is a serious problem. Reportedly things have got so bad that there was "an incident in which a percussionist had fallen off the back of a high stage while drunk".

Now I know that in a recession the arts are almost amongst the first to suffer but up until now I thought it was only rock bands that took to the stage inebriated.

For some reason it appears that brass players drink more than other sections of the orchestra. Having tried to master the trombone as a teenager I can understand the frustrations endured by this section of the orchestra but it didn't turn me into a raging alcoholic.

There has no doubt been a corresponding rise in sales in strong mints wherever British orchestras are located. A bass player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (a fitting title, in the context of this story) tells of a fellow musician who attempted to mask his habit with this confectionery and whose playing got "worse and worse".

To the best of my knowledge this affliction has yet to strike Singapore's classical music scene. I shall however be listening carefully for the sounds of Mozart on Speed.

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