The Dog Days Of Summer

“If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.” This Saudi Arabian Proverb couldn’t have been more applicable this weekend as the Grand Teton Music Festival Saturday evening concert was plagued by relentless outside noise in the form of a barking dog. This wasn’t simply a dog that barked a few times and left, instead, it was a creature that barked at a metronome marking of approximately 100BPM for nearly ten minutes…

The canine’s timing couldn’t have been worse as it decided to embark (no pun intended) on the vocal assault during one of the quiet movements from Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor.

Fortunately, soloist Lynn Harrell, a consummate professional, took a moment between the second and third movements to tell the audience “Where was this dog during The Seasons”, referring to the “Spring” movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons which the festival played a few weeks earlier. Apparently, GTMF music director, Donald Runnicles, had a different outlook on the situation as he discreetly fashioned his thumb and index finger into the shape of a pistol.

This isn’t the only time the GTMF has had to endure intrusions from outside noise and the festival has apparently decided to learn from the Saudi Arabian proverb. As a result of these audible intrusions, the festival has launched a capital campaign to improve sound proofing from exterior noise.

I was fully expecting to see the interim executive director or an executive board member come out at the beginning of the second half and use the uncontrollable incident as “Exhibit A” in an impromptu address demonstrating the need for a successful fundraising campaign but nothing of the sort developed.

Fortunately, the remainder of the concert, Strauss’ Ein Heildenleben, went off without similar interruptions.

Postscript: I later discovered that the dog in question belonged to a local establishment and it was not harmed during the attempts to stifle its barking.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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1 thought on “The Dog Days Of Summer”

  1. The sound of a barking dog can be incredibly irritating, but other, smaller creatures can do the same. I have a recording of a Rudolph Serkin performance at Tanglewood one year during which a cricket chirped throughout. The worst part of it was that it would stop, giving one a sense of relief, when, suddenly, it was back. Of course, its rhythm didn’t match Serkin’s music. How he managed to hold his concentration is nothing but heroic!

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