Personal Stories

July 31st – Story of the week about an experience Joe had working the switchboard as a young man at Carnegie Hall continued (summary: Joe is 18, as the accompanist for the Rutgers University Chorus, getting ready to premiere a work by Penderecki and he and the choral director had a disagreement):

Krzysztof Penderecki
Composer Krzysztof Penderecki

We got to the rehearsal with Zubin Mehta conducting. Penderecki was there and was gradually getting more and more upset with what he heard, saying that nobody was singing the right notes and finally exploding, “the only person who knows what he’s doing at this rehearsal is the accompanist!!”

So now, go ahead about week in time when the premiere took place, and I get a call from my dad (director of the hall) the next morning telling me that the switchboard operator at Carnegie Hall is out today, “Do you want to fill-in?”

So I come in, I’m answering the switchboard, and after the first few calls, I get one from the NY Times music critic who was writing a review and trying to find someone at the hall who knew more about Penderecki’s piece. At this point I say, “Well, I’m just the switchboard operator, but you might try asking me the questions.”

He was hesitant and wanted to speak with someone else, but I said, “Aw, come on, just give me a chance!”

And he did! I think I even still had the piano vocal score with me that day!

The critic then said, “You know, if this had been anywhere else but Carnegie Hall, I wouldn’t have even believed this conversation to be possible!”