We know the dates. We’ve known them for months. Nevertheless, the orchestrating of an annual town meeting with the deadline fixed and steadily marching closer is daunting, stressful, and sometimes threatens to go off-key.
The commissioning of the musical score — e.g. warrants — begins early, with a call to all composers for their submissions. The music must be a lot like last year’s concert — no new musicians or additional movements are encouraged. In fact, if you could eliminate a movement or two without, of course, impacting the overall service to concertgoers, that would be helpful. Meanwhile, the maestro and his advisors have just realized they’ve got only two days before missing the deadline for community funding to repair the instruments and buy new music stands. A mad scramble ensues, interrupting rehearsals and business as usual.
Now all the volunteer and elected symphony board members need to weigh in. They have been busy developing their own independent plans for the concert with their respective constituencies. All of their proposals are deemed “high priority,” and some of them even demand solos — or at the very least, duets — or to stand in the front row.
Meanwhile, the contract negotiations with the musicians’ union are taking place. Without them, the music can’t be played. Employees deserve a pay raise, but the revenue from concertgoers and donors is already strained. Will they be willing to increase their donations?
It’s time for the budget review team to hear reports and give a thumbs-up or -down to the expenditures. Wait, the team hasn’t been able to meet? Some of them are on vacation, and they lack a quorum? Some proposals are late? Should they be accepted? Or rejected, only to have to wait one long year for their next chance to make music?
Once the score is chosen, rehearsals are needed. The first violinist was sick and forgot to post the rehearsal schedule. Some musicians showed up anyway, but couldn’t agree on what the composer intended. Can we get that composer to attend the next rehearsal so we can learn his intentions? As long as the rehearsal gets properly posted. And so it goes throughout the long winter. The date looms ever closer, and the maestro is beginning to wonder if they will be ready in time.
Finally, the maestro has all the regular musicians together for a rehearsal, along with the hired instrumentalists and soloists. It looks as if they will get it together after all. But wait! Arriving late, but nevertheless with a drumroll and trumpet fanfare, comes the orchestra’s super donor with an offer to help build a new concert hall for all the young people! The concertgoers just need to fund a little seed money …
Time’s up. Get ready for the big performance. Cue the conductor. Take your seats, concertgoers. You shouldn’t miss this one!
And yes, I did attend the Island Community Chorus’s wonderful presentation of Brahms’ Requiem. If only our town meetings could be so well orchestrated.
Melinda Loberg is a Tisbury selectmen, an EMT, and serves on more boards than one can shake a baton at. —Ed.