Life in the A.M. – Bob Lauver

A.M. in this instance means After Martin.  I use a blue font because
that’s basically the feeling today, and because Martin was color blind
and he wouldn’t notice.

This forum might not be the best place to
express personal emotions, but if the spirit of this blog is truly
"behind the scenes" of performances by the PSO, then talking about our
loss of Martin Smith on Saturday is essential.

Pretty much everybody was in shock Saturday
night.  We heard of Martin’s death only moments before the performance,
and there was an announcement of that sad event to the audience by
Hampton Mallory at concert time.  There was an audible gasp from the
hall that triggered my sobbing mechanism for the moment of silence that

I remember very little of the performance, it
consisted mostly of trying to maintain composure and make it to the end
of each movement one note at a time.  I must say that during times of
shock and grief I’m grateful to have such a beautiful thing as music to
focus on.  There was a light moment in the horn section when Zach
performed a Martin-esque release to a note which sent me into a giggle
fit……it was either that or crying, so I looked at the bright side.
Zach has a way of walking through the discomfort of a solemn situation
to get to any joy that might be there, and he nailed it.  I doubt
Martin would have wanted us to be miserable……okay, maybe a little,
but he enjoyed it when we all had fun together, too.

After intermission was the time when we sensed
most directly the absolute finality of Martin’s absence up to that
point.  It was the Orff that Martin had played so beautifully the night
before.  Before the start though, was one of the more poignant moments
of the evening for me.  The horn row is one of the access points for
the woodwinds to get to their seats on stage.  Over the years, Martin
and I have played a game of "not noticing" when Nancy Goeres was coming
to her seat and then making a big deal of welcoming her through the
section and moving our stands out of the way so she could get to her
seat.  It’s one of those silly traditions that had become a
refreshingly nice little ritual that got everybody smiling.  Saturday
night I leaned over and got Martin’s stand out of Nancy’s way and we
both lost it.  Afterward I apologized to Nancy for breaking her up, she
and I both knew that Martin would have been right there doing that for

We all have been riding the emotional
roller-coaster.  I think it will be a long time before things begin
feeling normal again. 

2 thoughts on “Life in the A.M. – Bob Lauver”

  • What a shock!
    I left town on Saturday morning & therfore exchanged my Saturday ticket to Friday’s concert. To know now, that I had listened to Martin’s last performace & that it happened to be Carmina burana, sends a shiver through my spine…
    So many times, while listening & “observing you in action”, the thought of “the orchestra as an organizm” came to my mind. I bring it up often when talking with friends about live orchestral music. It is such a strong image for me: A live, vibrabt, dependable & interconnected “creature” existing & producing it’s purpose on earth: music! So, what happens when this “organizm” is cut? brused? a part of it gives way & dies? At first it is such a shock… no wonder the way you all had felt on Saturday night. It is even hard to imagine how you could play at all. Yet, if my “biological image” is valid, I should not be surprised that you did performed! A vital organizm must have the capacity to be shocked & yet, go on with it’s mission. I thank you so very much for that. We need music & we need you when we are in shock & we are hurting.
    How many times did I notice your coming & going on the stage, the different characteristics of each musician & their circle of friends. Martin performed with the PSO (as far as I remember) over 25 years. And I loved him from afar (the family circle). I loved it when the horns were asked to stand up after a great performane & it happen on his last night! Carmina burana was his fare-well to us, only we all did not know. I will miss him. I would not mind if his chair will stay empty for a while. You will be there for him.

  • I was talking to Martin’s sister-in-law yesterday and we reflected upon the fact that the orchestra is really a family. We know each other better than co-workers in most other fields, perhaps better than we want to in some cases!! I think this is a natural by-product of working in such an intimate way toward a common goal. But when something unforeseeable and tragic happens as did this weekend, it’s a great thing to be a part of such a big and thoughtful group. We all have been helping each other start the healing process, and will continue to for a long time. Thank you for your sentiments…..

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