On last night’s program for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia was a world premiere of a piece by Michael Hersch, Variations on a Theme by Hugo Wolf. The piece is rather dissonant throughout, and partway through the piece, between variations, a sharp, high-pitched siren blew. The orchestra and audience were motionless until a recorded voice announced that the fire siren for the building had been activated, and that we had to exit the concert hall immediately.
As we were filing out of the hall, many people were heard to remark, “I thought that siren was part of the piece!” “That was the best part of the music!”
After several minutes and several iterations of the alarm, the firetrucks came– apparently, it was a false alarm, possibly activated by last night’s storm. We all returned to our seats, and the orchestra started Hersch’s piece from the beginning.
At the end of the piece, several people booed. I disagreed with their assessment– I thought it was engaging to listen to the variations and to try to piece together the theme, which was unconventionally placed as the “last” variation.
Happy birthday to Geminica, my favorite siren. ;)