‘Twas nine Monday morn, and in a big hall,
A symphony orchestra was not having a ball.

They rubbed their sore eyes, uttered whispers and moans,
“Why wake us so early?” came the disgruntled groans.

“Can’t you see that we’re artists? We must have our sleep!
Before ten o’clock, you really won’t get a peep.”

So they sat for a while, they whinged and they whined,
‘Til one of the admin to the podium climbed.

“I have an announcement,” she proclaimed with a stutter,
That failed to quash all the orchestra’s mutter.

“There will be a concert, a spectacle fine,
Everyone’s favourite piece, in just one week’s time.

It can be any piece, be it big, be it small.
We’ve got the conductor, we’ve booked out the hall!

But to pin down the piece, well, we thought on a ruse,
We could go for a change and let the orchestra choose.”

All jumped up at once, there was no hesitation,
For the room it was filled with a sort of elation.

The horns called for Mahler, the strings cried for Brahms,
“Stravinsky,” came one voice, “the one with the Psalms!”

The cellos for Dvorak put in a quick plea,
With which the cor anglais, for once, did agree.

The flautist threw in Afternoon of the Faun,
But the trumpeter answered to this with a yawn.

“Only ten minutes? We need something longer,
Where the mood it is dark and the meaning is stronger.”

“It should be Shostakovitch, I don’t care which one!”
But the piccolo’s squeak was not dwelt on for long.

The percussionists yearned for something modern and faster,
Scheherazade a clear favourite for the concertmaster.

Mozart and Vivaldi, Schumann and the Bachs,
All were tossed back and forth with some cutting remarks.

But as the orchestra’s mood escalated to rage,
The contra-bassoonist climbed up on the stage.

He cleared his throat once (for luck) then began,
And the speech that then followed, like this it ran:

“My friends, each of these pieces is a glorious dream,
But yet in this room, we must work as a team.

If we continue to play out this musical fight,
I really do think we’ll be staying the night.”

(This comment attracted a flurry of nods,
On one point at least, there was no one at odds.)

“Rather than pieces that show off just one,
Let’s choose us a work that is weighty and long.

I propose we play Beethoven, symphony nine,
For surely, we must all agree it is fine.

It uses full orchestra, chorus as well,
And the final result, it will surely be swell.

What’s more, it is great, it has weight and yet class;
A symphony it would be hard to surpass.”

All stood stock still, not so enthusiastic,
Then the timpanist gave a great roar: “It’s fantastic!”

The orchestra cheered all as one, now on fire,
The harpsichordist, a smile, “I can sing in the choir!”

But back at his desk, the director he sighed,
To the unfortunate admin, he turned and he cried:

“They’ve chosen a piece that’s a nightmare to stage!
Of all things to forget, there was one final page!

For we had a shortlist, not a choice of just any,
The confines of our budget excluded so many.

We cannot perform this; we don’t have the time,
What’s worse, this conductor is not in his prime!”

But down from the hall, a sound it was ringing,
For the orchestra, well, Ode to Joy they were singing.

The director sat down held his head in his hand,
Against such uproar he could not take a stand.

The moral of this tale? Well there could be a few,
Like how best not to make one’s directing debut.

But I think, in the end, though it could well amuse,
It is wise not to let the orchestra choose!

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