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I could have been a youtube sensation...

In 1996 I performed the Gliere Concerto in Denmark. Jin Wang was at the podium and after the first performance in Esbjerg, I was feeling great for the second run - taking place in the town of Ribe; excited yet relaxed. Right after we started the second movement, I was aware of some disturbance at the very back of the hall. I really was rather engrossed in the music, but faintly registered some erratic clapping by a single set of hands and some vocal grunting and whooping.

I thought that whatever might be going on would certainly be handled by the ushers...

Then I saw the young man slowly making his way down the middle aisle. He would stop a little here and there to look around and it was fairly obvious that there was some sort of developmental challenge involved. I was still playing along but was starting to feel that the ushers certainly were taking their sweet time helping the young man who clearly needed a chaperone.

Before we had completed that beautiful first melody, the young man was up on stage - looking straight at me from a very close range. Then he reached out his arm and took hold of my horn - pulling it away from my face. Seeming satisfied with the results of his experiment, he headed into the orchestra and only when the second violins had a few opportunities to dodge other exploratory instrument-grabs, was the young man finally escorted off the stage.

Meanwhile the maestro made signs to me; investigating whether we should abort our efforts and restart the movement. I signaled to go on as I felt that it would be more disruptive yet to halt the performance.

I do have an audio recording of this concert, and while you can hear the sounds the young man was making, the moment when he pulled the horn off my face just sounds as if I all of a sudden can't play (which I couldn't as my embouchure failed to make contact with the mouthpiece...).

Recently I have been thinking: If this were to happen today, there would have been multiple videos from iPads and cell-phones, and they would all have been posted and shared within minutes.

Actually, the complete trajectory of my thinking has been more like this: 1) Oh my God, what is happening??!!!! 2) What if he had pushed my horn instead of pulling?! 3) Any recording of this performance (which really was going very well!) is going to be ruined! 4) Isn't it kind of cool that this guy obviously was very excited about live performance? 5) Maybe we should have more audience members get physically involved? 6) Timing is everything - I could have been a youtube sensation...

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