Alex Timcke
Principal Timpanist, West Australian Symphony Orchestra

OK, so this story doesn’t involve me but it did happen to my wife. At the time she worked for the orchestra as the person who looked after the conductors and soloists, getting them what they needed and making sure they were all happy and comfortable. I should point out that this was many years ago when both of us were new to our jobs. We were doing an opera season with an older American conductor who was fairly set in his ways. First of all he needed someone to take his score along to the theatre at a specific time. Straight after the show he would leave the pit and retire to his dressing room for a glass of champagne while he waited for his score to come back so that he could go through it and make any corrections.

In order to get out of the pit, the maestro would have to walk past where I was sitting with the timpani so we’d always do a “thanks very much, great performance” – all that sort of...