For those of you who aren't well schooled in the classical music world (and that's pretty much everyone with a social life), here's a fact of life that almost every orchestral musician knows: conductors hate pops concerts.

For those of you who don't know what a Pops Concert is - ok, you have a social life and all, but could you at least turn on PBS once in awhile?

I have played in several different professional, semi-professional and volunteer orchestras in my life and I've never met one who wants to do them and most vehemenantly fight against doing them - even though they tend to be the bread and butter of symphony orchestras. One of the local orchestras in the area here does one pops concert per year and it pretty much pays for the entire rest of the season. So you see how it's a necessary evil... most musicians I know don't usually mind them so so much, but for some reason I've never met or heard of a conductor who doesn't whine, complain, agrue and gripe about them. The notable exception being
John Williams and he's got a dozen or so Oscars on his shelf to tweak his love a bit.

Awhile ago, I was rehearsing in an orchestra that was doing the music from
Crazy For You and one of the selections was a blusey number called Slap That Bass. Here's an example of the lyrics:

Zoom - zoom, zoom - zoom,
The world is in a mess.
With politics and taxes
And people grinding axes,
There's no happiness
Zoom - zoom, zoom - zoom,
Rhythm lead your ace!
The future doesn't fret me
If I can only get me
Someone to slap that bass

The orchestration requires the upright bass players to pluck their strings so hard that they make a slapping sound against the fingerboard - hence the name.

Music history lesson aside, this is the point of my story: the conductor of this concert was particularly acerbic and it became apparent that he knew nothing about this kind of music when he announced, "OK next, let's turn to Slap That Băss (pronouncing the word 'bass' as though it rhymed with 'class'). There was complete silence as the orchestra members tried to keep straight faces and turn the page, but apparently the hesitation was just a little too long and he caught on... "Is it băss (rhymes with 'class') or bāss (rhymes with 'face')?" he questions the orchestra. No one is brave enough to answer him. Except my friend, the principal bass player, who said (and this is why I love him and he is my friend): "Um.... a băss is a fish."

End of lesson, children, class dismissed.