Today was a lot more physical labor than mental. That might sound like a complaint, but I don’t mean it that way at all – getting to do some lifting and moving now and then is one of my favorite aspects of the job.
As the workday began, we still didn’t have a solid plan to get risers for the singers to stand on, but the choral conductor Marika Kuzma said she had a couple of options to pursue. The first major event of the day was receiving the delivery of the instruments. These are a collection of handmade percussion instruments (many made from found objects) built by the composer Lou Harrison and his partner Bill Colvig in the 1970s. Some came from UC Santa Cruz and some from Mills College in Oakland, and it’s quite impressive to see them all assembled.
The morning was spent putting the instruments together and moving them into position. In this, I was just a helper, following instructions – the effort was led by the master percussionist William Winant and a member of his group. At first I thought this was going to be complicated by the fact that there was some photography for a future exhibition happening in the gallery, but we managed to work around each other easily. After assembly, we tried various configurations of the instruments until we had something that seemed like it would work. It was a thrill to handle the pieces and to listen as Willie gave a brief impromptu concert.
The minute we had things squared away with the instruments, we found out about the risers. Gathering them involved a couple of short treks to various parts of the campus, then of course assembling them and putting them in place behind the instruments. What we don’t have yet is a plan to get them out of the museum and back to the folks who kindly lent them, but I’m willing to worry about the logistics of that another day.
Following up on another topic from yesterday, we do now have the green light to show the film about the making of the instruments, so I started setting that up. Perhaps what I’m about to write is too much minutiae, but it gives a sense of what it’s like to put on performances of this kind in a medium-sized arts organization. The sequence went something like this …
- The chief curator of the museum gives the go-ahead to have the video in the gallery.
- I pull out a pedestal and a DVD player.
- The installation crew kindly brings a monitor from an exhibition that’s closing in another gallery.
- I test out the video and discover that the DVD player can’t be set up to automatically loop. I make a mental note to ask our staff video expert to create a looping DVD tomorrow, schedule permitting.
- The publicity folks update our website and facebook event page to reflect the fact that the video will be showing during the week.
- The publication staff starts creating a label to put on the pedestal.
- I email the filmmaker, letting him know what’s going on and thanking him again.
- Before the museum opens tomorrow, I’ll let the gallery guards and front desk staff know about the video and the instruments, in case museum visitors have questions.
So that was the bulk of my day. Tomorrow night we have our first on-site rehearsal, after hours, which I’m looking forward to immensely.