On the evening Jan 25 as my Chamber Blues entourage were getting ready for a very early morning flight to Matzatlan Mexico. In addition we were told by the airlines to arrive 3 hours early for a number of reasons including the lines at TSA due to the government shut down. So the morning alarms would go off at 3 AM.
But Mr. Spontaneity had his own ideas. We found out that our Violist, Dave Moss, was having a surprise premiere kidney stone attack. He was forced to skip our trip. The painful diversion would lead to a hospital venue where a performance to explode his kidney stone with sonic bass vibrations would take precedence over our dear departure to Mexico. None of our beautiful team of substitute violists were available.
The organizers of this concert had worked day and night for months. They had already sold all but a few tickets. I couldn’t let them down. The concert was scheduled for noon on the 27th at the cherished Angela Peralta theater. We were already traveling with our substitute cellist (who we love) and a substitute cello from the 1600s provided by Armand once we arrived in Mexico. But we had no violist. Would it be ok without a violist? No!
I called our host/presenter Maestro Gordon Campbell, to tell him that there is yet another wrinkle in what was an ongoing rubicon of rubric cubes and Rube Goldberg challenges that we had already faced organizing this Mexico concert.
He did not have the heart attack I had fully expected. I asked him if there were any available violists in Mexico he could recommend. I was waiting for a miracle. He said there is an excellent violist who is the principal with a couple symphony orchestras in Mexico but he added that he thinks he is already doing a concert that evening.
So far so good
I communicated with Carlos late that night. He was available! He would drive from Culiacan on the 26th and meet us in Mazatlan to rehearse for the noon concert the next day on the 27th. I would get the music together and bring it with me. Making it work from scratch with one short evening rehearsal would be an impossible task - when two days of rehearsals is never enough for me - but this was our fate. I told Dave that his kidney stone is doing great work by introducing a new spirit, “Carlos,” to the underbelly of Chamber Blues. That was the attitude of the day. What choice did we have?
A Rolling Kidney Stone
The exploded stone finally rolled through Dave at 11 AM - way too lake - we were already flying out of Houston. Carlos Guadaramma met us after we landed in Matzatlan to begin rehearsal at 6 pm for 2.hours and 3o minutes.. Few of us had any sleep at all. We ran out of time with two compositions that hadn’t been even looked at. It was hard to believe we would be in the hall in a few hours at 9 am setting up and sound checking for a noon concert.
Never let the audience in on the secrets - right?
At noon we were introduced. After a few numbers i introduced the band and explained that Carlos from Culiacan was subbing for Dave who had a kidney stone attack, and that we had only a couple hours of rehearsal, I asked the audience to carefully watch Carlos’s fingers for any slip ups he might make, The audience cheered Carlos. And then I shared the message Dave asked me to send to the audience: “A rolling (kidney) stone indeed did gather Dave Moss.” The audience of 700 loved that they were in on a once in a lifetime event that was spontaneous and enhanced by struggle. They loved the message and instantly hopped on stage with us - in spirit. I always say. When the audience is quiet it’s a concert. When the audience responds like they are right there with the performers, it’s an event. Sweet Carlos merged with the Chamber Blues spirit and didn’t miss a note. He was the star of the show. This was an event we will never forget.
Isn’t it wild that so many times when spontaneity comes unsought and sometimes unwelcomed, and just takes over, that it actually turns out to be your good friend?
Play this video below to get a glimpse of the audience vibe.