2023 East Coast Brucknerathon - A report
The 2023 Brucknerathon took place as scheduled on September 8-10. But it didn't go as planned. To begin, I was more distracted than usual. Our house is undergoing some extensive remodeling so much of the furniture had been piled into the library. My studio and downstairs bath were being extended and on the opening Friday, we had several workmen in the house as people began to arrive.
It was going to be a relatively easy event for me. In the past, the Saturday listening event took place at the home of my friend, Ken Jacobson in nearby Simsbury and it involved allot more work. He and his wife, Ruth essentially opened their house to us, but I was to provide all food, utensils, drinks and all the music. It involved several carloads of provisions. This year, the Saturday listening event was to take place at the home of Dr. Michael Cucka. Michael is the editor of the Bruckner Society's "Bruckner Journal" and I was relieved of having to provision the event.
People began arriving around 2PM. It was an unusually hot and muggy day for September and we decided that the informal reception had to be inside instead of on our outside patio. We brought in chairs and squeezed everyone into our TV room. My stereo system was basically out of commission due to the construction.
At 3PM, a text from Michael Cucka changed everything. All attendees were requested to test for Covid and Michael had just tested positive. Michael and his home were suddenly unavailable...
With people now arriving from all over the country, we had to find a location for a 16 hour surround-sound multi-media event with food and refreshments that was just 17 hours away. We needed to present recordings that were on CD, DVD, DVD audio and Blu-Ray disc Two recordings, held as computer files needed to be converted to CD and DVD for presentation.
We didn't panic for long. My wife called my son, Matthew. He owns a recording studio in nearby Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The studio is big enough for the attendees and is equipped with video and surround-sound capabilities, but modern day studios have little need for physical playback equipment such as CD and DVD players. Fortunately, being a Saturday, the studio was not booked.
As others enjoyed the reception, A few of us were rapidly making changes. I needed to pull the thirteen recordings that were scheduled to be presented. It was determined that my OPPO media player would be the best piece of equipment to play back the recordings. It had to be unbolted from my audio rack. John Proffitt, an attendee from Houston, assisted me in determining what cables and connectors would be needed to integrate the player into my son's audio mixer.
At 6:30PM, we left my house for our traditional Friday dinner at a local restaurant. During dinner, calls were placed to re-order and re-direct meals for the following day. Provisions (plates, cups, utensils, drinks, etc.) would also need to be gathered and transported to the studio. All the stuff at Michael Cucka's house was now inaccessible.
After dinner, John Proffitt and I prepared to transport the audio gear to the Rocky Hill studio. But this is where Mother Nature really began to play a hand in the day's activities. As I mentioned, it was an unusually hot and muggy day for September, but now we were confronted with one of the most intense and terrifying thunderstorms to hit the region in recent years. In addition to explosions of thunder and lightning, there was wind and torrential rain. We could not go the six feet from my garage to the car without getting drenched and ruining the media player. After twenty minutes, we took advantage of a lull in the storm to get into the car and then make the slow drive to Rocky Hill as the highway was now a river and the lightning was making visibility increasingly difficult. We finally arrived and with the help of my son, the media player was successfully linked into his studio. It was 11:30PM when we returned home.
My son and I were back at the studio at 7:30AM. John Proffitt arrived a few minutes later. I brought all the breakfast food, John went for the coffee. Attendees began arriving at 7:45 and the listening session began on time at 8:00AM sharp.
The OPPO media player performed its magic and handled all forms of media with no problems. Lunch was ordered from a nearby deli, ice was brought in regularly to keep the beer and soda cold and we stayed on schedule.
At 5:30PM, I left to pick up the ordered food from a German restaurant in New Britain, Connecticut - about 20 miles away. But again, I was tested. The rain stated again and by the time I finally reached the restaurant, I was stuck in the car due to the torrential rain and hail. Once the food was finally loaded, I found myself having to drive through flooded streets (over nine inches deep) to return to the studio with the dinner of chicken schnitzel, pot roast, spaetzle, red cabbage and glazed carrots. It was delicious!
For much of the remaining evening, as the attendees enjoyed videos of the Symphonies 5 and 9 plus the Te Deum, I was on the phone with the restaurant regarding a duplicate order and duplicate charge. The session ended on time, the guests departed. I straightened up the studio, grabbed my media player and locked up at 11:00PM
The Bruckner Society Board held its annual meeting the next morning. By 11:30AM, the 2023 Brucknerathon was over.
My thanks to all the attendees for their flexibility and good humor, special thanks to my wife Marjory who helped organize the changeover, to John Proffitt for his technical assistance, and my son, Matthew for his help and for the use of his incredible studio. And finally my thanks and best wishes to Michael Cucka who did so much planning only to miss it all and suffer through the ravages of Covid-19.
My only regret is that it all flew by so fast and the changes made it difficult for me to enjoy the company of the attendees. The event was remarkable because it was one of the only times in recent memory where all three of the US-based editors of the Bruckner Edition - William Carragan, Paul Hawkshaw and Benjamin Korstvedt - were together at the same time and it was in my house. I didn't have time to savor that moment.