Half true story made up by Marnix van Ammers for Lucas Frederiksen, son of Michelle Frederiksen (Lee), daughter of John Lee, bass player in the 1961 John Marshall High School orchestra.

A long, long time ago Michelle's father John and I were in the high
school orchestra together.  One year we had an assistant teacher
helping our conductor.  The assistant was a graduate student at
Julliard and was earning his doctorate by composing a piece of music
and then having a high school orchestra perform his composition.  

For weeks the assistant worked on his composition.  From time to time
he would come in and talk to our conductor or ask questions and very
occasionally he would also help out by being the conductor while our
real teacher had something else to do.  

Finally when the assistant had finished his composition he gave us the
music and had us try it.  The music was like no other music we had
played before.  It was so strange.  No one had even heard music like
that before.  It had strange jumps and strange harmonies and strange
places where there was no sound and then suddenly there might be a
loud sound.  It was what we thought must be very modern music, too
modern for us to understand, but perhaps one day we'd appreciate it.
For now, we all thought, we should just try to play it the best we

The plan was that we would play the composition at a big concert where
many high school orchestras would play before judges and try to win
trophies.  We practiced for weeks.  Finally the time came for our
concert.  Some other orchestras played.  We didn't really listen much
to what was being played by the other orchestras.  We just nervously
waited in a back room for our turn.  Finally our turn came.  The
assistant was the conductor and we were playing his composition.  No
one knew what the judges would think.  Maybe the music was terrible,
just as some of us feared.  But maybe it was great and we just didn't
understand it.  For sure we played the notes just as written before us
just as well as we possibly could.  It was difficult music because it
was so, so, well, so unlike music.  But we managed and all seemed to
go pretty well.  No squeaks from the clarinets, no missed notes from
the horns, no out of turn cymbal crashes.  All was great.  The music
was made up of sounds that danced around strangely with sudden
silences and sudden flurries of notes.  When the last note had been
played there was a moment of silence and then a loud greaaackWAP!!
No one knew if that was the last note, but it sure sounded like it
could be.  There was an awkward silence while the audience thought
about this ending.  Then suddenly there was wild applause.  They liked
it!!  And we won top prize!!  

And what was the greaaackWAP sound, you ask?  That was Michelle's
father's bass violin.  A string had just snapped at that moment.  Who
knows, it could have been the note that put us at the top.


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