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Concert Disasters

1. Fire bells, UK


Something that happened to me tonight prompted me to start this thread, which will perhaps take some of the heat out of the recent test pieces debate. For the last 18 months, July 13 1996 has been in my diary as a very important date. My band, Sandwell Youth Band, had a concert in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, with Steven Mead, probably the best euphonium player in the world.

So, tonight was the big night. After working nearly nine hours, I finished at six this evening, and, grabbing a burger on the way, managed to leg it across town in full concert dress to get to the venue for 6.30, ready to start at 7.00. As I entered the warm up room, the fire bell went. We all started laughing...but it didn't stop. Eventually, we realised we were going to have to leave the building, which we did. After about 15 minutes, we were let back in again.

By now, everyone had arrived, and the start time was put back to 7.15. So...we all got our instruments and did the customary band warm up, hymn tune, etc. We had just learnt of how we were going to have to march on stage to music, from BOTH SIDES, and were standing, with instruments and music in hands, at the top of the stairs, the audience having just been comfortably reseated, when the bell went again. So, it was everyone outside again. After another 15 minutes, someone told us that the Adrian Boult Hall staff didn't know what was going on with the system, and had decided to cancel the whole concert...five minutes before it was due to start.

That just has to be one of the best. We'd had extra rehearsals with Steven, learnt new pieces to play with him, including Goff Richards's amazing 'Pilatus', as well as two marches to play with the Salvation Army Timbrels. It really was set to be the climax of the year as far as our band was concerned, and it was just snatched away, five minutes before what would have been, for me personally, one of the highlights of my five years with the band so far. Which prompts me to ask the question...can anyone possibly beat that for concert disasters?

Best wishes, (On July 13...that's right...THIRTEENTH!!...the evening of the concert that never was)
Woolley Pritchard Sovereign Brass.

2. Floating music, Australia


My worst experience hardly matches Tim's chronicle of woe, but it certainly was my biggest disaster in 30+ years of playing euphonium I was about 13 (that number again) and the budding soloist with our local town band in New Zealand. Someone asked me to play a solo at a school concert (outdoors) and being a typical brash youth, I didn't think to take the precaution of pegging the music to the stand. Naturally, the obvious happened and about halfway through that lovely, flowing finale of "La Belle American", the music disappeared over the fence, leaving me soundless and bright red in front of about 500 laughing kids.

The next time I played it with the band, the music was triple pegged, and I had the whole piece completely memorised. (I can still play it without music, even after all these years.) Since that day, I've always taken pegs with me wherever I play.
City of Dandenong Band

3. Guns and fingers


I don't think I can beat the disaster that Tim Morgan told us about, but I must tell you about an on-stage accident that happened at my band many years ago.

We decided to close the first half with a piece called The Wee MacGregor, where the instruments come to a halt before the end (eg trombones twenty bars from the end, third cornets sixteen bars etc). It was decided that when the players finished, they were to walk off, with the rest of the band playing, with the conductor becoming more and more frantic. It finished with an Eb bass playing on-beats and the conductor going off in disgust.

The idea was that the bass was to keep playing those two notes over and over again, and the percussionist to shoot him with a starting pistol as the curtain closed. This happened, much to the delight of the audience.

However, what they hadn't seen was that the percussionist for some reason had his finger over the pistol barrell as it went off. Although there wasn't any ammo in it, the gun did send an awful lot of air down the gun and the poor man lost all the skin off his finger and a great deal of blood. He was rushed to hospital while four of us spent the interval mopping up the stage. Our percussionist was out of action for six months but got away with only having skin-grafts on his fingers.

I will never forget the start of the second half. The compere came infront of us and said "Interestingly, you will see our bass player has survived the assassination attempt, where as the gun man has been over-powered and taken away from the theatre. In fact, the percussionist is not at all well and is unable to continue. And we thought that banding was safe.

Note: This procedure was used by Josef Haydn with the Esterhazy orchestra in 1772. It explains why his symphony No.45 in F# minor is nicknamed the 'Farewell' Symphony. In this instance each player had to snuff out the candles on their stands before leaving the stage in ever increasing darkness. Whether Haydn thought it was original, I don't know.

4. Alarming wrist watch, Australia


I was telling our MD, Alex Ferguson, about this thread at reheasal last night and he told me about the time at a contest when he was conducting the hym, the alarm on his wristwatch went off during the final chord. He was frantically trying to turn it off and coax a ppp out of the band at the same time. I'm beginning to have my doubts about him, but since he's a euphonium player (and a scot), he must be OK.
City of Dandenong Band

5. Missing conductor


OK, all of these "true confessions" have provoked another one: Last fall, the Triangle Brass Band of North Carolina was scheduled to perform a concert at an outdoor amphitheatre in Cary, NC on September 27 (a Saturday) at 7:00 pm. Normally, late September and October are quite beautiful in the US South-east -- clear skies and moderate temperatures being the norm. However, a nasty front came through the area on that particular weekend and it rained and turned very cold. The wind whipped up and all outdoor events for that day were cancelled.

The amphitheatre management was quite anxious that the concert be re-scheduled, so we agreed to a Sunday, October 6th date and, due to the possibility of losing the daylight too early, chose 3:00 pm as our new concert time. As luck would have it, Sunday, October 6th was a positively lovely day -- sunny, cool but not cold, eveything you could ask for in an outdoor concert date. The band began showing up, as instructed, at 2:15. Soon we had all of the percussion set up, chairs arranged, sound system ready to go. Except for one thing... no sign of our conductor. We called his house and there was no answer. Hastily, we elected one of our many music educators to assume the baton; fortunately, his part was doubled in the band, so he could be spared from playing. He hastily assembled a program (having no scores he had to conduct from his 1st Baritone parts), the band cranked up and it actually went quite well. I honestly don't think anyone in the audience knew that anything out-of-the-ordinary had happened.

In the meantime, our conductor arrived home from his afternoon errands and, wanting to double-check with someone on the directions to our 7:00 pm concert, began calling various people in the band. He was surprisedthat no one seemed to be home. Finally he reached one member's wife, who informed him that, at this time, directions were probablyirrelevant...
Triangle Brass Band

6. Lubricated bandsmen at the 'Red Lion', New Zealand.


Guess I have a couple of stories from my childhood that could qualify here.: As a youngster I sat in at practice with the 7th Cheshire Reg (Territorial) band, my grandfather was the Bandmaster and also my tutor on cornet. Every year the different regimental bands would converge on Chester Castle to hold their annual band contest which usually consisted of a test piece and then marching the Regimental march. I was invited to go along every year to watch and listen, while the band had been very successful previous years the problem always seem to be getting them to the contests sober. I can remember leaving Macclesfield Cheshire riding in the back of a covered Army lorry along with about 7 of the bandsmen, all headed to Chester castle, my Grandfather and the drum major (a rather robust sarge named Ernie) were sitting up front and separated by a canvas flap.

The Lorry convoy hit a traffic jam and one of the bandsmen (think it was a trombone) lifted the flap to look outside, after which he promptly lifted the back tailgate and jumped out..followed by 5 more of the bandsmen, I started to follow but was told to stay on the lorry . However I did peep out to see what the excitement was all about, it seemed we were stuck in traffic right in front of a establishment named the 'Red lion'

You guessed it....the traffic eased up and the convoy continued on its trip, minus 6 bandsmen who were all having a wonderful time in the taproom of the Red Lion pub. About twenty minutes later my Grandfather lifted the flap to check if I was ok, and I can remember his face turning Crimson when he realized that he had lost a large part of the band.. To cut a long story short, the missing bandsmen were rounded up and the band made it to Chester with minutes to spare before they were scheduled to march, all seemed to work out though, as they won the Contest, (athough to this day I wonder how).
Evening Post Onslow Band,

7. Bass drum virtuoso


While on the Whit Friday marches a few years ago, with Banks's Brewery Band, I was given the job of Bass Drum player. Before we got to the Oldham Athletic football ground, some bandspeople had complained that they couldn't hear the drum. I then gave a particularly loud double tap, and split the skin. The band could barely march or play for laughing, the crowd were amused too, and wherever we went after that I had the job of explaining what had happened.

We'd borrowed the Bass Drum from the Salvation Army. It was my most embarrass ing moment in banding.

8. Fading light - Australia


1. Our band was doing a soundtrack for a locally produced movie (live, ala silent films) and at the grand gala opening when the local important people were all invited, the band started the opening credits to the tune of the Dam Busters and as the lights dimmed (including the ones in the pit) the music faded out as well. A hurried restart was made (after slapping the lighting technician around) and things went off relatively smoothly after that.
Glenorchy City Concert Brass

9. No strings attached - Australia


Marching competition (compulsory in the Australian Nationals until recently) we were doing our final rehearsal for the own choice display in a car park, which included five cornet players standing out the front doing the "Chicken Dance" while their cornets are slung around their necks on strings. Yes, you guessed it, principal cornet players string broke and made the first valve unmovable. On the way to the competition ground, we stopped off at one of the Besson resellers stalls, borrowed a cornet for the competition (didn't tell them what we were going to be doing with it) and performed our march display without a hitch.
Glenorchy City Concert Brass

10. Possum magic - Australia


Entertainment competition. We had an elaborate story telling programme which told the satirical life story of Ken McDonald (the adjudicator of that competition and quite famous in Banding circles in Australia). One section involved our flugel player playing the electric guitar and the rest of the band dancing around in a scene reminiscent of the free love sixties. As soon as he started into some typical heavy-metal type chords, all the lights in the auditorium went out. Of course, he thought he had blown a fuse, but it turned out that a possum had been caught in the local substation and taken out the power to most of the city. While the band waited patiently in the dark, they played silent night and sang Bohemian Rhapsody. On an aside, the band secretary's son was videoing the event and thought that he had broken the camera until he took the eye-piece away from his face. When the lights finally came back on, the resumed from the place they left off, received tumultuous applause and won the competition. The possum survived the ordeal incidentally.
Glenorchy City Concert Brass

11. Flying trombones - Australia


I am normally the first baritone player with Glenorchy City Concert Brass, but because I play Bass Trombone in a big band, and because our Musical Director likes the look of five trombones across the front of a marching band, I usually get to play bass trombone in marching jobs and competitions.

At the Australian National Championships in Melbourne in 1992 (?) ourband was in the traditional street march parade of bands down the mainstreets of Melbourne. For those who don't know, Melbourne has trolleytrams through many of its main streets and the course of the march (which is also part of the competition) was along a tram route. I was in the position of right marker this time, and due to an unfortunate lining-up of the band, happened to be stumbing along right on top of the tram line. I was also using my brothers trombone (he performs in a wheel chair and for some reason can't abide marching). We were just coming up to the turn in the street, and I got confused in a tricky bit of the march, where I have to release the trigger and move the slide. I got it the wrong way around, and sent the slide flying along the tram line, bouncing end to end and coming to rest about ten metres in front of me. We had been doing some particular training to ensure that everybody held their slides high and straight (looks very impressive) so the slide whistled past the ear of the Drum Major, nearly giving him heart failure. I continued to play for a few notes before I realised that I couldn't, and I pondered my predicament.

As luck would have it, the slide was directly in front of me and I was able to bend down, pick it up, replace it in position (it was completely unharmed), check my pace and take the very next step with the drill adjudicator (who marks the pacing of the band by the right marker (me) against everybody else's pacing). The Drum Major of our main rivals (Ulverstone Municipal) happened to be on the side of the road watching the whole thing and said it was one of the most entertaining marching displays he had ever seen.
Glenorchy City Concert Brass

12. Front row forward - Australia.


This isn't about a disaster, or even a concert, but when I saw Robert Lynch from the Onslow band in Wellington write in with his story, I was reminded of a trick we played on the Drum Major when I was in Onslow band in 1974 (before your time Robert, but there are still several members in the band who should remember it).

We had a marching practice early one cold Sunday morning for the pending national championships. No-one felt like marching at that hour, especially since we had all been to a band party on the Saturday night.

We had a full front row of 6 trombones, four of which, if I recall correctly, had been selected for the upcoming National Band of New Zealand, so they all knew how to blow. The word went round the band and on the order to "Quick March", everyone except the trombones stood still and played. The troms and DM were about 60 yards up the 100 yard straight before the DM caught on and turned around to look. I suspect the laughter from those who couldn't control themselves any longer probably gave the game away.

Fortunately, he had a sense of humour but he still worked us harder than usual for the next 2 hours.
City of Dandenong Band

13. Rock Band Contest, Canada.


When the North American Brass Band Association 1996 Championships were awarded to the Weston Silver Band we immediately registered our event with the Toronto Covention Board to check for any conflicting events. All the plans were laid and bands from across North America were set to attend. Hotels booked ,ajudicators hired etc etc etc.

Four days before the event the City of Toronto informed our venue that there would be an outdoor rock concert on the day of the contest and Gala concert across the square from our venue and that all traffic in downtown Toronto would be blocked off as part of some tree hugger mother earth march! The venue management informed us that they had had to cancel events when this had happened before because the sound from the rock bands ovewhelmed the hall.

Panic! Followed by quick action by our band president,Bob Gray conductor,Ron Clayson and other members including current president Alan Black( and not just a little face to in their face visits ) secured another and much better hall for the event. Buses were laid on to get participants from the hotels to the hall. Trucks were arranged to move equipment.The city agreed to help with bus tranportation but neglected to confirm with the bus company.Between 7 AM and 10 AM cabs were quickly provided until the bus situation was fixed. By the time our band was to play (last) most of were ready to go for a drink rather than contest but we achieved the best result the band had ever had in NABBA contesting.

The contest went off successfully and a packed audience enjoyed the Canadian Staff Band and trombone virtuoso Alain Trudel at one of the best Gala concerts ever for NABBA. The hall originally booked would have been standing room only with latecomers not able to fine a place.The "hall" easily held the auience in comfort and with much better acoustics.

The best part was that the march flopped with only a few hundred instead of the "thousands" expected, the rock concert was cancelled and the police opened the roads.

Needless to say the beer at the reception was especially tasty.
Weston Silver Band,Symphony Hamilton, Ontario

14. Various trombone stories - Australia.


At a contest a few years ago a second Trombone became a little enthusiastic when putting a mute in his instrument, when he gave the mute the customary half turn, he did it with such force that he managed to wrench the entire bell and tube section around approximately 30o. About 10 years ago another second Trombone player was left holding his outer-slide when he slapped a mute in and sent the rest of his instrument over his shoulder.And finally in a warm up room, we were blowing into our mutes, mucking around, seeing how much air you could blow into them, well one of the friendly Bass players wanted a go, yep he blew the end right out of a stone line mute without a great deal of effort at all. And to finish, Newcastle City Council has just intstalled a brand new Fire hose in our Band Room, the reason, they believe the Building may be in danger of burning down before they are able to demolish it.

Here are a few more. During a concert at a well known Club (In Australia a Club is a in most cases an upmarket Pub) an announcement was made that in view of the special occasion the president had decided all drinks would be free for the next hour, at this exact moment the chair the Eupo player was sitting on collapsed, he hit the floor and got back up without any damage to his instrument. At an Australian National Championships the same Eupo player walked and stage with professionalism only to have his mouth piece fall out just as he was getting to his seat the mouth piece than rolled of the edge of stage, a little old lady in the front row of the audience kindly returned it.

At our last concert of the year, Christmas Eve at a Yatch Club, free Beer, get the picture. We arranged a little prank on our Kit Drummer, now he was very talanted, model his style on Daly Wilson Big Band. Anyway we used to give him a short 16 bar solo in the middle of Hawaii 5 0 , well when he started into his solo, the Conductor called the entire Band out of their chairs and to the Bar, Kit Drummer completely un phased continued with his solo. After about 15minutes the Band rejoined our Dummer and completed the piece. The thing about this is he would have gone on all night if we hadn't come back. Another one from the same place a few years before, Conductor call for Mexican Hat Dance to be played as a Finale to the concert, the band quietly and very quickly decided to play Silent Night instead. I think it took him at least 3 bars to work out what we had done.

I hope you are finding these of some interstest. Marching in a state title in 1986 our Drum Major decided that all the other Bands had turned the wrong way at corner 5, so we went the other way, the wrong way down a one way street, that had not been blocked off, I'm still wondering what the Taxi Driver thought was happening as the Band came towards him. Whilst rehearsing Marching at a local School, the same DM was continually placing the Band futher to the left of the Sports ground and closer and closer to the Jungle Jims and Slides in the Playground, well, a certain Bass Trombone player attempted to point this out to the DM, but he didn't want to listen. So on the next run thought the Bass Trombome player marched right up and over a Jungle Jim, across a rope bridge and under a Slide, so this is no big deal you might say, but the funny thing is the entire rank, including a BBb bass followed him.
WARATAH MAYFIELD BAND

16. Beware assistant conductor - USA


While this occurred in a concert band, it is a cautionary tale for assistant conductors. While playing the overture to LA GAZZA LADRA, the euphonium section decided beforehand to speed up, slow down, etc. at will with a part consisting of repeated eighths (quavers?). The assistant conductor was on the podium giving rise to much hilarity as he blamed section after section for the instability never guessing the euphs were contributing the flutter: )
Sam Houston State University

17. Soldier on, etc. - Australia.


1. In 1992 I suffered a collapsed intervertebral disc, which meant I could not stand or sit for more than 40 seconds without an excruciating pain forming down my right leg. I spent ten weeks mainly prone during this episode. The only cure was surgery, which fortunately was successful (relatively). The problem was that the National Championships were on in Sydney three weeks before surgery was due, and we had only two Bb basses, one of whom was me. We were playing "Royal Parks" for our own choice, and so it was imperative to have both basses present for the contest. At the same time our principle cornet was having surgery for another ailment. The contest was three days after her operation.

We both appeared in the contest. Joanne did well despite her recent wound, and I played my Bass while propped-up in a bean-bag. Others were kind enough to carry the Bass to and from the stage. We were National Champions in C-grade that year.

2. Some years later, we were playing Rhapsody in Brass for our Own Choice in the State contest. Near the end of the first movement, one of the valves of our 1st Euphonium's instrument became jammed. It was unfixable without tools. He immediately leapt up and ran off the stage, looking for a replacement instrument. The first movement finished OK. All this was being taped along with an adjudicators comments. The adjudicator finished his comments on the first movement as we were still waiting for John to reappear with a working instrument, before beginning the second movement. As the seconds ticked by the adjudicator became a little unsure of what was happening. The tape has comments like "Hmmm....I hope you are going to play the second movement for me.." etc. Eventually John appeared with an instrument provided by an obliging player from a rival band (now there's band spirit for you). We finished the piece and thankfully the adjudicator was not put-off by the episode as we won the contest.
Warringah Concert Brass

18. Fanfare for the common man (No.1) - UK


One of the funnyest "disasters" I encountered was at the opening ceremony of a large international Scout camp. There were 13 nations represented. Every one marched from their sub-camps to the area for the opening ceremony. The band was playing next to the big marque. Everyone was oozing with national pride. At this time the band had Lara's theme from Gone with the Wind in the pad and it was decided to play this once all the people were assembled.

The arrangement we were playing had a large drum roll crescendo...diminuendo at the beginning. As soon as we started the drum roll, all the Scout leaders quickly got their scouts on to their feet, stood smartly at attention and were ready for the first notes of the tune........God Save the Queen!!!! Try it, it does fit. There were lots of embarrassed leaders about that day.
City of York Scouts

20. Fanfare for the common man (No.2) - Australia


We were the occasional music to an international Rotarian meeting who were our major sponsors at the time. We were in a very large hall, actually a basketball court that could be converted to a concert hall, and thousands of Rotarians from all over the world were rolling in covered in their badges and national pride. It was arranged that we would play some grand fanfare for the official dignitaries entrance, but they way these things work, and the lack of coordination between the band and the official organisers, in came the flags of all the represented countries and their delegates to "The Love Boat Theme". Everybody thought that in retrospect it actually worked OK though.
Glenorchy City Concert Brass

21. The be-flat Bass - Australia


This is a disaster which became a prank. Some years ago before a march a tuba was left standing behind a large truck. The truck reversed and... that was the disaster.

Some time later: our conductor Cliff Goodchild is tuning the band on stage. "Too sharp!" he cries to one of the tubas. "Make it flatter!" The tuba player pulls his slide out... "Still too sharp! Flatten it! Make it flatter!"

Goes on for some time, until the slide is hanging on by a whisker. The tuba player storms off stage. Sounds of hammering and clanging from off stage. Then the tuba player returns, with the above mentioned tuba. "There!" he cries in triumph. "Is that flat enought?"

This happened before I joined the band, but the super-flat tuba is still in our bandroom, waiting for the next tuba player with a sense of humour. (I know, all tuba players have a sense of humour...)
Waverley Bondi Beach Band

22. Slam-Dunk, USA


When I was in High School Marching Band we were invited to a "Band Day" at University of California, Berkeley. There were about 30 school bands, plus the University band. (this was during a football game.) The halftime show was the massed bands, but the pre-game show was just the host band. The field was a bit wet from previous rain but the show went on. One of the major features of the Cal Band entrance to the field is a traditional running march out of the end zone tunnel, led by a strutting drum major. On his first step onto the grass field, the drum major slipped backwards, landed on his bottom - in front of thousands of bands-people and the rest of the audience.

Another year the Cal Band was to perform the 1812, complete with cannons from the Reserve Officer Training Center. The triggers for the cannons were controlled by a switch box on the conductor's platform. When the time came for the first blast, the conductor hit the first switch. Due to faulty wiring, all the cannons went of at once - the blast blew out the bass drum, knocked several people over, and ended the show right there !

23. Missing horn, New Zealand


At the last Wellington Chamber Orchestra concert under Marc Taddai (NZSO Principal Trombonist) our 1st French Horn player Malcom Diamond went to the loo 10 minutes before starting, only to discover to his horror there was no loo paper......

Marc waited 2-3 minutes for him...2nd horn rushed out to find him, but no go......200 strong audience beginning to giggle......we had NO idea where he was.....and then Marc began the symphony without him....the piece opened with French Horns of course....!!!!!!

2-3 minutes into the piece he appeared off stage and ran across behind us all to take up his place....titters from the audience etc.......

At half time Malcom explained his predicament....when asked how he coped, he said "For Gods Sake DON'T ask".......he apparently no longer has a shirt tail, however.....!!!

That aside, the concert was fantastic....a great review.....mentioned that "once the horns found their seats they played well".........

At least he didn't do what that opera singer debuting in Covent Garden did recently.....got the night wrong and was sitting at home watching TV as the opera cast were waiting frantically.....

24. Band Manager's nightmare


A word to the wise, never, never agree to manage an ensemble. The following is true and happened to me tonight. It could happen to you!

At 7pm in Alton, IL the temperature was 93 degrees. The sound man had the night off - the first trombone player was running the board. Miraculously we were able to hook everything up and get it working.

8pm, the temperature was 92 degrees...it's SHOWTIME! Instead of playing tonight, I'm working the crowd, listening for the balance. We make some minor adjustments and all's well.

Whoa! The announcer's mike either doesn't work at all or is so loud it can be heard 10 blocks away. Quick - move him to another channel on the board. Whew, that was a close one...

All's going smoothly, good crowd tonight, maybe 325. The singer tonight is even close to pitch.

Yeeow! Sounds like somebody's hearing aid is feeding back through the amplifier. Turn off the board in the middle of a song. It's still there. Must be a car alarm. No. It's the burgler alarm in the building directly (5 feet) behind the band and the bullhorn is underneath pointing right at the tuba section.

We store some equipment in its cellar so I go in armed with a screwdriver and pair of pliers to disarm the alarm. Found its plug - unplugged it - it has battery backup. Found the cable, traced the wires to the bullhorn, clipped them with wire cutters. Need to make a phone call in the morning. I'm not going to be very popular in some circles.

Our announcer makes some humorous remarks about the noise and the concert's back on track.

Blam, blam, blam, Help! Let me out of here! A little girl using the restroom right behind the band (a public area in the same building as the burgler alarm) can't get out. One of our heroic tuba players went to her rescue. The door opens inward - not outward as she was trying to push it.

The band's on the next to last scheduled number, a concert march arrangement of "The World is Waiting for the Sunrise" with a killer euphonium part. Sixteenth notes that just don't stop. We're taking it at quarter=144. One of the lights behind the low brass section goes out. Check the AC. It's ok. Bulb looks ok but it's 15 feet in the air. Shake the pole it's on. No light. Looks like we'll be waiting for the sunrise... Euphoniums do a great job anyway.

Concert's finally over thank goodness. One of the crew taking down the 1000 Watt light poles (one that was working) drops it hard on the ground. That makes two dead lights.

Mothers don't let your babies grow up to be band managers!

25. Dropped a clanger


If you're into concert disasters, here's a real clanger. Not a brass band one strictly, but you never know... :-(

A friend of mine (who'd better remain anonymous if you're going to publish) was playing percussion with a city schools orchestra. They went on tour, and this particular concert was in a hall with a stepped concert platform, with access steps at each side.

Their repertoire included the Great Gate of Kiev. He tells me this required a single tubular bell, and no other piece needed them. It was decided that for the tour they would take only the single bell, rather than the full set.

The percussion gear was set up behind the rest of the orchestra, as usual, on the highest platform step. The bell was set up in the temporarily-rigged suspension at the edge of the platform near the access steps.

You can guess what happened, I suppose. Just as it was struck, the string snapped. The bell hit the ground with a clang, fell over sideways with a louder clang, and started to clang its way down the access steps all the way to the bottom...
Failsworth Band