Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Different Kind of Fireworks

There we sat, about five of us finalists in the BSO dressing room awaiting the verdict from the audition committee. Thee Roger Voisin was retiring from his amazing career with the orchestra. I felt a bit guilty even being there as a possible replacement for one of the giants that had been a hero of mine for so many years. As we all sat together chatting somewhat uncomfortably for what seemed like hours, the room suddenly burst open. It was not a committee person with the announcement, but it was the exuberant one himself, R.V.

"Hi, boys! I just wanted to see who to give my key to." He grinned as he held high his locker key, as if the highest jumper would get it. No one would be the first to speak, although inwardly we were all yelling, "Give it to me. I'll take it!" Next he opened his locker, picked up one of the trumpets hanging on its hook and proceeded to play something for us.

Many times I had heard his remarkable ability to bury an orchestra. I have also heard about his picking up the high horn cold and knocking off the opening of the last movement of the Brandenburg. So I expected some fireworks right there in the locker room. But he had a different kind of fireworks in mind for us. He had a knack for injecting the needed ingredient of the moment, and his mission was again about to be accomplished.

His C trumpet already had the necessary Bach black mute installed, so he proceeded to impeccably execute some multiple-tongued nasty fast French flourishes. I don't know if it was Debussy, Bozza, or the Toy Soldier March, sad to say. But it was fast, very soft, absolutely clean, and very impressive. Then he sort of winked at us, hung the horn back in its place, and turned to leave saying, "Let me know which of you boys gets the key." He seemed to have put us all in our places.

I can still hear those prophetic words. That man indeed possessed many keys which he was always willing to impart to the most eager receivers. Even in those final days with the orchestra, Roger Voisin was still leaving lessons for those who would take them. We were impressed that he probably could have auditioned that day and won his own job back!

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