« Previous  
 Next »

Luskin: Technical Failure

08/03/11 5:55PM By Deborah Luskin
 MP3   Download MP3 

(HOST) Commentator Deborah Lee Luskin has recently experienced the shining power of community entertainment - even when the power fails.

(LUSKIN) I've recently attended two events where technological failure has brought the performances to a halt. The first was a performance by the Windham Orchestra back in June. The Latchis Theater in downtown Brattleboro was packed, despite the Sunday afternoon sunshine. First we heard the world premier of local composer Derek Jordan's magnificent Windham Loops. After intermission, we settled in for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but six minutes into the first movement, the lights flickered and went out.

In the silence, the audience waited. No one left, even after word came that a transformer fire had darkened the south end of town. In the dim illumination of the emergency lights, jazz musician Moonlight Davis took the stage and led the audience in song. After "This Little Light of Mine" and "When the Saints Go Marching In", it became clear that we'd have to evacuate the theater before the battery packs on the emergency light ran down. Conductor Hugh Keelan directed the orchestra to play a D Major chord, and the Windham Festival Chorus sang the triumphant Ode to Joy before we politely filed out in what had become companionable dark.

The following Friday evening, I walked to the Williamsville Hall, a retired grange that a group of villagers have brought back from neglect. The group had raised money and invested in a digital projector, a good screen, and a license allowing them to show movies. A Bugs Bunny short preceded the feature film of the evening: Seabiscuit, a movie about a racehorse and his people. About thirty of us were in the audience. Many, like me, had seen the film before, but couldn't remember the ending. Happily, when the disk malfunctioned ten minutes from the film's dramatic end, Gloria, our Town Clerk, remembered the final race sequence.

A retired educator, Gloria enlisted the help of Sam, the youngest member of the audience. Together, they enacted the thrilling finale, where Seabiscuit comes from behind to win. We left the hall feeling well entertained - and lucky. This low-key event had turned into something more than we had bargained for. We'd all come out to watch the movie together, and together we were able to create a satisfying ending to what could have been a frustrating technical failure.

Technical failures are surmountable in many ways. After the power failure that silenced Beethoven's Ninth, the Windham Orchestra, the Windham Festival Chorus and the four soloists rearranged their schedules to perform what was billed as Ode to Joy Take Two. It was another sunny, Sunday afternoon, and again, the Latchis Theater was filled. We were again treated to Jordan's Windham Loops, a feast of sound filled with musical influences from around the world and featuring remarkable percussion solos. And then, after intermission, the power stayed on. The entire event was indeed an ode to joy.
comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter