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There’s a Britpop music pub quiz near me on Wednesday and they’ve called it “Sorted for Teas and Quiz.” I want to go just to shake the hand of whoever came up with that name.
I will not be able to hear bagpipe music without imagining that it is being played by a lovestruck Scotsman to an indifferent penguin in a barren snowy landscape.
The penguin, Margot (because that’s a great name for a penguin), will be mortified. “This is precisely the reason we cannot be together,” she is saying. “For crying out loud, Gregor” - (because that’s a great name for a Scotsman) - “I’ve told you it will never work between us. You’re a kilt-wearing sporran-breeder who likes to make a noise that sounds like several emotionally-naive elephants with nasal problems mourning the loss of their hearing. I’m a penguin.”
Gregor, who keeps playing his squeaky pipewail despite Margot’s ire, closes his eyes and pictures the two of them back in his homeland, walking hand-in-wing along Hadrian’s Wall on a beautiful grey summer’s day. He moves his mouth away from the bagpipe wind entry nozzle, breathes in, makes that hilarious big-cheeked constipatory push face, and blares another massive drone of pseudomusic in the ever-diminishing hope that his beloved avian will be wooed by his prowess.
A single tear falls down Gregor’s cheek. It freezes.
If 2012 was the year of anything, then it was the year of the reunion. More so than in previous years, it seems that in an entertainment sense, people were getting back together, putting old differences aside and taking huge bags of paper money to their local bank while cackling and cackling and cackling.
Only last week the remaining living members of The Beatles reformed for a one-off charity concert, with all surviving members performing with the exception of Ringo Starr, who had lost his keys. Starr was replaced by the demon from that Tenacious D video, and Krist Novoselic of rock band Sweet 75.
In February, talk-of-the-town indie band Catamaran Tragedy split up days after releasing their debut album, Where Did I Put My Spiders. Citing creative differences, all eight members immediately embarked upon solo projects. Sixteen minutes later, they reformed and announced a world tour in which they’d play…Spiders in its entirety. The tour sold out within two hours and earned the band one trillion dollars.
One of the most hyped reunions of the year was the Trapped Chilean Miners who got back together in the summer and toured deep holes in four continents. The one exception, Mario Ticona, was absent due to a disagreement about shoes.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, the cast of the film reunited and robbed a bakery.
In May, after more than six years apart, Leonard Cohen reformed. “I was always confident I could put my differences behind me,” he told a nearby goat, “I’m glad I was right.” Cohen was reluctant to give the reason for the initial split, but insiders insist it has nothing to do with them.
First performed in February 2012, Gumbert’s Concerto for Strings, French Horn and Incidental Cellphone was initially hailed as a triumph by both critics and the music-loving public alike.
Working from the observation that every single public art performance - classical music, theatre, opera, etc - was at some point interrupted by an audiencemember’s cellphone, Gumbert began writing the piece in 2010. Utilising the inevitability of telephonic interruption as something advantageous, rather than an incumbrance, the inclusion of a noisy ring tone in the work adds an element of humanity and unexpectedness to the performance.
The piece begins quietly, almost mournfully. It sulks through variations on a four-bar melody, shifting in tone slightly but remaining at a low volume throughout. As soon as the conductor hears a cellphone ringing in the audience, he immediately stops the music for a second, then encourages the orchestra to replicate the sound of the ringtone. This abrupt change in the music lasts for ten minutes, or until another phone is heard, at which point the orchestra tries to replicate it instead.
On its debut, a middle-aged man’s phone started ringing after five minutes. Tuts from the other spectators were silenced when the instruments stopped and then began trying to make the three-note tune. The violins were the first to replicate it accurately, and other instruments fell in before long.
On the fifth performance, no cell phones interrupted the concerto. The conductor apologised to the audience at the end of the performance and all tickets were refunded.
Within two months of shows, audience members had started arriving with their cells set to full volume, having instructed their friends to call them within seconds of the music starting. Such performances became harder and harder for the orchestra to play, and many players were hospitalised. The final performance was last week.
Gumbert himself, having witnessed the last few shows in person, has since announced that he is currently working on a Concerto for Cellphone and Incidental French Horn.
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