Bassoon Recital Rocks Albanian Youth
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon last week, residents of
the Chigrana refugee camp were offered a rare musical treat: a free,
free-form solo bassoon
recital by an amateur American clown know variously as "Marko",
"Mark", "Moo", and "Shok". Part of a
three-day festival sponsored jointly by
humanitarian flight attendants, homeopathic doctors, the UNHCR, and
a West Virginia free silly hospital, the
event showed that the 39,000 person tent city (comparable in population
if not in area and foliation to Urbana, Illinois) harbors many dedicated
fans of bassoon music.
The program consisted of brief snippets of C. M. von
Weber¹s concerto for bassoon and orchestra, "Les Moutons
de Panurge" by Frederic Rzewski, and "Sonatina for Bassoon
Alone" by Herbert Brün, all embedded in improvised noodlings
inspired by the local modal pop piped into the area and performed
in the manner of a strolling minstrel. The melange was frequently
punctuated by rapid descents to the lowest note of the instrument,
whereupon a rubber glove tucked into the bell would inflate and greet
the assembly. Further breaks in the texture were provided by audience
participation in the form of squeezing the performers¹ rubber
nose and spinning the propeller on his beanie, and even international
institutional participation in the form of percussive aerial bombardment
several kilometers north of the performance space.
A high point of the afternoon was when the entourage
of Mr. Shok (Albanian for "friend"), which by that time
was hanging off the soloist¹s arms and trying out a few notes
on the bassoon themselves, met the entourage of Dottor Bombo, an italophone
professional clown also participating in the 15-clown extravaganza,
a round of hugs as of long lost relatives ensued. Another high point
was when Mr. Shok consented to take a few spins on the bumper cars.
While close contact allowed for considerable give and
take with the audience, towards the end of the afternoon the performer
showed signs of
being overwhelmed by the physical nature of the audience¹s expressions
of admiration and seemed relieved to arrive at the tour bus with body
bassoon, at least, intact.
In subsequent days of the festival Shok reluctantly
abandoned the bassoon in favor of performing his impressions of a
Brief discussions with members of the audience during
and after the performance mostly consisted of inquiries into names
and countries of origin
(favorite answer: Antarctica), but also touched on opinions of various
world leaders, dynamics of mass hypnosis, and how to break cycles
of revenge. The topic of sanctions against Iraq rarely came up.
One audience member commented: "Maybe the children
will dream of clowns instead of bombs."