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Noises off week in Wisconsin

1 Robert Levine

So we’re in Marinette - right across the river from Menomonee, Michigan, the Banana Belt of the Upper Penninsula (where Yoopers come from) - playing a concert at Blesch High School, where the signs say “Catch the Blesch Spirit!” (and no I’m not kidding). We’re well into the slow movement of the Mendelssohn “Italian” symphony when all of a sudden loud banging noises erupt from beneath our feet, shaking the stage. We get to the end of the movement, with no cessation of bangs. So I signal the conductor, walk off stage, and ask our staff a polite version of “WTF?”

Inquiries establish that it’s only the (new!?) furnace coming on; the bangs are the steam in the pipes. That was only mildly reassuring; instead of being blown up by the local Al-Queda cell, we were going to be fried in a steam explosion.

And then the noises stopped. So I rushed back on stage so as not to miss any more of the Mendelssohn, which began (after apologies to the audience) by skipping the third movement. As the third movement makes my hand hurt, this felt like fair compensation for the bangs.

What is going on in the Upper Midwest this week? Have we been invaded by the Bang on a Can Festival?

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