Auxiliary Instruments

In my former life, I was a professional bassoonist, playing in multiple orchestras in New York, Michigan and Ohio. I played principal, second, and contrabassoon.

If I was scheduled to perform a work that required the presence of an additional musician for an auxiliary instrument, it was indicated using the “+” symbol (e.g. 2+cbn = 2 bassoons plus a third musician for the contrabassoon).The contrabasoon has a supporting role; adding color and depth to the rich sound. Playing the contrabassoon often meant getting paid more to count rests than to play notes. But when I played, people around me (usually the back row of the violas) heard it.

There is a lot of waiting playing the contra. But even in those few notes, there was glory.

My assignment for the block pARTy at Zoellner is a similar role to an auxiliary instrument. While the production crew has been working so many hours of very constant labor, I wait for direction. When I can help effectively, I know I’m adding something of value. While I wait, I take pictures and try to get out a tweet or a post to share the excitement of the moment. Other than that, I try to stay out of the way. There is no glory in what I do – and I’m OK with that.

Every one of Zoellner’s production crew is busting their butts making sure all of the stages are set and the artists get what they need. They are also making decisions and redirecting plans because of the weather; moving acts in places all over the arts center while they also set up for Sunday’s cirque show. I watch in awe of their talent and professionalism. The production crew is in their glory.

And I am so lucky to be a small part of it.


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