Snow delay

We had both rehearsals canceled today due to the snowstorm that
plastered the upper Midwest. It was actually Milwaukee County that
pulled the plug by closing all “non-essential” county facilities –
including our hall. But just about everything else has been canceled
today as well, including the opening night of the touring production of
“Lion King.” All the malls were shut, the airport is shut, most Ash
Wednesday services are canceled, and the buses have stopped running.
In some spots further inland, the snow plows were pulled off the road
for the drivers’ safety. We are now at nearly double the normal
snowfall for this point in the snow season.

The major casualty of the storm, as far as the MSO is concerned, is the Wiliam Schuman Symphony No. 5 we were scheduled to play this weekend. The rest of the program – Beethoven’s Eroica and a Mozart piano concerto – will survive a little under-rehearsing (assuming the pianist can actually make it to Milwaukee), but the Schuman is both hard and unfamiliar. Too bad; it looked as if it was going to be interesting.

I’ve spent virtually my entire career in places subject to severe weather. It’s amazing how rarely we get shut down by it. We had a runout canceled in December due to snow, but prior to that I can recall only one service that was snowed out; a runout to Green Bay many years ago. We’ve only lost a handful of outdoor services to rain, for that matter. I recall a rehearsal and concert being canceled once in Saint Paul while I was there; it came on a Friday after 19 inches of snow (and that was on top of the 17 inches we’d gotten on Wednesday.) But it wasn’t blowing all over the place like it is here today.

We did have a flight home from Des Moine canceled because of a snowstorm, which led to a memorable 12-hour bus trip in a blizzard. One of our cellists, a gentleman who’d been with the orchestra for a long time and who was known as something of a character, decided that we needed some cheering up. So he cadged cosmetics from all the women on the bus, vanished into the bathroom at the back of the bus for a few minutes, and emerged as a scantily dressed, very attractive woman of a certain age. It worked too; it was a long time before we thought about the snowstorm and how long it would take us to get home at 20 mph.

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