I confess. I really DO love to perform as a pit musician. Whether it be playing for opera, ballet or Broadway shows, I find that there is a special excitement, energy and camaraderie that comes from being a part of a bigger spectacle. My life this month has included a lot of pit work…to date, 22 Nutcracker performances with New York City Ballet. Here’s what a a typical day has been like for me.
Arriving at the theatre, viola on my back…
I pass under the giant Nutcracker banner.
Backstage is quiet since musicians are still arriving. A lone bass rests from the commute…
While inside the pit, a cello is waiting for its owner.
Here he is! Mr. Alessandro B, known as much for his fine music making as for his wonderful Italian cooking (and excellent taste in ties.)
It’s still a half hour “to curtain”…
And the house lights are up as patrons pour into the theatre to find their seats.
She’s tired of waiting for the show to start, but at least the activities of the musicians in the pit give a modicum of entertainment.
Mark tunes his cello…
While Mitch and Gary, two members of the clarinet section, warm up.
Tchaikovsky’s score to the Nutcracker is some of the most popular and beloved ballet music. The cellists sharing this stand obviously REALLY love it!
(And they’ve had plenty of time in the rests to paste many more stickers.)
Meanwhile, in one of the viola parts, the shows played are kept track of very creatively.
On the nearby Celesta (think Sugar Plum Fairy music), generous musicians keep the goodie plates replenished.
It’s nearing showtime, and the atmosphere at Lincoln Center is festive as patrons enter the David Koch Theatre.
I put away my camera and take out my viola…no more pictures now, but you can come and see the show and hear the music for yourself. If you’re lucky, you might even get a pair of signed toe-shoes from your favorite dancer.