The System in Our Building

This might not be funny to anyone else but me and the handful of classical musicians who read this blog, but there are a few hockey phrases that I’ve recently been applying to playing in an orchestra.

I’ve always liked how hockey players refer to their arenas as “our building”. Recently, I’ve enjoyed referring to Kleinhans Music Hall as “our building”. This terminology is particularly good for when you have a guest soloist you don’t really like. “I don’t think he should come into our building and play like this.” [Note: this does not apply to our current guest artist, Edgar Meyer, who is quite fabulous. He’s welcome in our building anytime.]


If we go play a run-out, when we get home we can say, “It’s good to be back in our building.”

My other, (and most favorite) hockey phrase is “the system”. You’d be surprised at how many times a day I can say, “Oooh. The system really broke down right there. Come on guys! We can do this. Let’s just stick to the system and work together. Just stick to the system, people!”

The System

Good things will happen if we stick to the system.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to apply the phrase, “They’re really spending a lot of time stuck in their own end” to classical music, and I’m all set.


18 Responses to “The System in Our Building”

  1. 1 jonhoepfinger April 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Hey Pomerdoodle is a Lady Byng finalist (most sportsmanlike)

    Good boy Pommer, heres some bacon.

  2. 2 Destiny April 24, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Yeah I think Pommer deserves some Beggin’ Strips for that one. :)

  3. 3 Jaime April 24, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    You know when you’re going over a new piece of music and for whatever reason you are completely stuck at one part? That’s when you could use that phrase i.e. the timpani’s are really spending a lot of time stuck in their own end (or whatever instumental group is messing things up but obviously never the violas!)

  4. 4 Courtney S.F. April 24, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    I was thinking of something similar to what Jaime said, but most of the time it would apply to either the winds, the violins, or sadly, the basses. In most orchestras, these are the instrument groups who get singled out and have to play (or tune) things alone while the rest of us just sit there cringing. After a particularly trying rehearsal of say, The Enigma Variations, one might say “The violins were really spending a lot of time stuck in their own end today. That second variation is a doozie.”

  5. 5 CrotchetyOriginalSam April 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I’d like to submit the idea that “stuck in your own end” could be used to describe sections of the orchestra that are just bumbling along in their own little universe, oblivious to the fact that the rest of the orchestra is TRYING to get THROUGH THE DAMN PIECE without a full-blown train wreck!!

    So, basically, most violin sections would always be stuck in their own end.

    Also, I’ve been referring to our music director for years as “the Jacques Lemaire of conductors.” I can cite at least ten reasons why. “The system” is at least three of them.

  6. 6 CrotchetyOriginalSam April 24, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Oh, and it’s also fun to seize every available opportunity to refer to your ensemble in orchestra meetings as “this organ-eye-zation.” Most of the group looks at you like you’ve lost your mind, and the handful of hockey fans quietly lose their shit.

  7. 7 Katebits April 24, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    HA! I canNOT wait to say “organ-eye-zation” in an orchestra meeting. That is HILARIOUS.

    Osmo doesn’t actually say “stick to the system”, does he? Because that would be so so so awesome.

  8. 8 elise April 24, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    okay, well, what about if the VIOLAS are only playing out at the tip? is that stuck at their own end?

    p.s. i feel like i HAVE to stand up for the violins. i should, shouldn’t i? it just feels so terrible.

  9. 9 Sharpie April 24, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I just have to say, I love the acoustics in Kleinhans — the sound there is the best of any theater/concert hall I have been in. (Not that I have been to a whole lot, mind you, but hey, I still love the way it sounds)

    I went to an AHL game last night and afterwards I couldn’t help but think of the commercial (I think it was for Verizon’s v-cast) where the guy is pounding on the nursery window, and the voice over says “Hockey fans aren’t like other fans.” and how funny it would be to see that at a fancy concert. I’d try taking a sign or something but I’m pretty sure it would just get me kicked out.

  10. 10 karen April 24, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Last time I was in KMH was 1999, for the BSS 30th reunion concert. Is there still that fabulous house across from the stage door that’s painted different zany colors every year? My sister and I used to love guessing what color that house would be!

  11. 11 Katebits April 24, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    elise, that is a GREAT use of “stuck in their own end”. Heh.

    Sharpie, I would LOVE IT if people would bring signs to the orchestra!

    Karen, I am sorry to say the house across the street from the stage entrance does not change colors. Rats!

  12. 12 CrotchetyOriginalSam April 24, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    well, what about if the VIOLAS are only playing out at the tip? is that stuck at their own end?

    No. That’s high-sticking.

  13. 13 TimK April 25, 2008 at 9:15 am

    I miss Kleinhans, that building has character… I am stuck playing the viola in Poughkeepsie =( it’s like that time the Sabres were in Montreal and had to practice in that barn… our building is actually a barn sometimes…

  14. 14 Courtney S.F. April 25, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Do violists ever play at the tip when everyone else is playing in the lower half? I don’t think so. The violins are the ones who do this (usually when they are stuck in their own end). I can’t tell you how many times some silly concertmaster has told the violas (and/or cellos) that we need to match the high sticking violins and play out at the tip when the passage in question is on one of our lower strings and playing at the tip would generate a wispy, wimpy, inappropriate sound. I applaud your efforts Elise, but because your herd is so huge, you have the largest margin for error.

  15. 15 Katebits April 25, 2008 at 11:48 am

    AAAAAAHAHAHAHA! I love that this thread has turned into the nerdiest of smack talk.

  16. 16 Katebits April 25, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Hey, TimK! Aw, I’m sorry you’re stuck out in the barn! But, like you said, it happens to even the fanciest of professional athletes from time to time. I’m pretty sure Kleinhans is haunted too, so be thankful you’re not warding off ghosts and goblins. Are you a native Buffalonian or something?

  17. 17 CrotchetyOriginalSam April 26, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Kate, my friend Megan wishes to add that a violinist attempting to double on viola is clearly, blatantly offsides.

  18. 18 TimK April 26, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Yup Katebits — born and raised in Buffalo… but now I just go there to see family and hockey games!

    Sam — Offsides, and 2 minutes for playing with an illegal stick ;-)

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