Bill Spornitz on Wed, 20 Mar 2002 08:47:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The night went off, virtually, without a hitch...

I found the article below in the March International Musician 
magazine, the AFM newsletter, and I've ocr'd it for your edification. 
I've done this because I have some concerns about it.

Firstly: I've heard a lot about how cold it was in Salt Lake City on 
the opening night of the recent Olympics show, and I'm reading in 
this article about how they couldn't play their instruments, it was 
so cold.

Today, March 19, 2002, the last day of winter, the current 
temperature here, at 10:30 CST is -19 Centigrade, or just below zero 
Farenheit. I have played my saxophone out of doors, here in the City 
of Ten Thousand Daves, at temperatures approaching -30C, where one is 
forced to transpose the music up a tone and a half in order to 
compensate for the contracting of the metal in the horn. 'Nuff said.

Secondly: There's not much to say about the AFM, the American 
Federation of Musicians - suffice it to say that there are editorial 
opinions in this month's issue that celebrate that great american 
Patriot, Jack Valenti. As well, they quote Hillary Rosen as saying 
that addressing the problem of pirated recorded music "has 
fundamental importance to the US economy and to our overall 
competitiveness".  Youch!

But mainly:  Why I'm really bothering you fine folks today is to ask 
a question. There's a real kind of sick dis-jointedness to this story 
- about musicians pretending to play their instruments, protected by 
armed soldiers, marched through security checkpoints, protected by 
extra security measures, suffering the failure of critical heating 
systems, but soldiering on, faking art on bad instruments for an 
audience of Billions and Billions served.

Here's the question: Is this what they mean by de-construction? I 
mean, it all kind of sounds like it's coming apart at the ontological 
seams, doesn't it? Or is this a simulacra? Or is it  a Situation? Or 
what? I'm pretty sure it's not avant-garde...

It's getting really, really hard to tell what's really going on, and 
I appreciate any light anybody can shine through this fog.


Bitter Cold Can't Stop Music at Olympic Opening Ceremonies

Were you one of the millions of people watching the opening 
ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, who thought 
"How did they do that?' Despite typical frigid Utah February 
temperatures, the Utah Symphony Orchestra musicians seemingly played 
their instruments and trumpeted the opening of the games. But were 
they really playing? Most seasoned musicians know that temperature 
that low would cause irreversible damage to expensive instruments 
which might crack, freeze, and certainly not play in tune. What was 
really going on that night?

It wasn't a magic trick. "Nobody though that we were not playing 
live," says Erich Graf, president of Local 104 (Salt Lake City, UT) 
and a principal flutist with the symphony. Organizers knew the harsh, 
Utah winter weather would pose many logistical difficulties for a 
symphonic production. "Basically when the Olympic Committee 
approached the symphony it was a given that the music would be 
pre-recorded," says Graf. The musicians contracted through the AFM to 
work in the studio for about 18 hours throughout January. It was 
agreed that the musicians would lip-synch at the ceremonies, and they 
were not to bring their own instruments. Instead, student-level 
instruments were allocated. "Southwest Strings, an Arizona-based 
company, provided all the string instruments, and at the close of the 
event consented to donate them to the Utah Public School System," 
says Graf, "which is a tremendous benefit to the schools here".

The AFM also provided for safety precautions for the musicians. "They 
could not have been more proactive and more cooperative in terms of 
their pursuing things to make the musicians feel more comfortable and 
safe," says Graf. "The orchestra and the union decided early on that 
we were not comfortable without some kind of protections for the 
musicians in the hall since it was located just adjacent to the 
medals plaza," says Graf.  Salt Lake County provided the extra safe 
precautions, security guards, and bom sniffing dogs to check everyone 
at ea symphonic event.

National Guardsmen with M-16 rifles were a common sight at 
Rice-Eccles stadium (medals plaza). Musicians waited hours in line 
for each rehearsal and performance arriving four hours early to go 
through security checkpoints. "It was like a small airport during 
rush hour," says Graf.

The AFM also made sure the musicians were comfortable for their 
Olympic performances. Shuttle buses were provided from the outlying 
areas into Salt Lake valley for rehearsals and performance and 
heaters at the arena warmed the bundled up musicians. The heaters had 
to be fixed after they failed during the dress rehearsal the night 
before opening ceremonies. It was these tireless efforts that made 
for an unforgettable night.

After years of preparation, the night went off virtually without a 
hitch, thanks to the help of the AFM and its year-long negotiations 
behind-the-scenes with producers Dave Goldberg and Jeff Bennett.  It 
made for a stunning evening the whole world enjoyed. "I appreciate 
the AFM facilitating our opportunity to be able to participate in 
this," says Graf. "For all the effort it took to put these things 
together I think that the event was like standing out looking at the 
Grand Canyon for the first time-it was a spectacle like no other on 

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