THE PHILHARMONIC ORC
RANGE: Enormous chandeliered mausoleums named after extinct robber barons are the customary haunts of these myopic Neanderthals, but they may also be seen—and heard—on Public Television, FM radio, wine-bar Muzak systems, BMW cassette decks, and wherever gouty millionaires doze in red plush seats beside their buxom spouses.
HABITS: The Philharmonic Orc high-browbeats the citizenry into
believing that he and only he has the right to make loud noises—or, for that matter, any noise at all. To this end, he has created an inefficient dinosaur of a noisemaking machine, the Symphony Orchestra, to which respect, homage, and bucks must be paid.
He hushes you with a lordly hiss, should you chance to cough during a pause in his machine’s noisemaking. His victims leap to their feet shouting “bravo” (for men) and “brava” (for women) during other pauses. He reserves for himself the right to be first clap in and last clap out. He is the moving spirit behind the granting of vast sums of public money to subsidize art forms which are patronized largely by persons with vast private wealth. If music be the food of love, the Philharmonic Orc is providing food stamps for the upper class.
He has insidiously hornswoggled us all into the certainty that only music composed before 1900, as interpreted by seven dozen of his monkey-suited thralls, is serious.
HISTORY: The Philharmonic Orc claims kinship with both the Phantom of the Opera and the emigrée Sugar Plum Fairy. He also maintains an unholy marriage of convenience with the Culture Vulture. For reasons difficult to fathom, the Germans, Italians, Russians, and French all proudly claim him as their own. Like the Vampire, a similarly attired, decadent and aristocratic monster, the Philharmonic Orc came comparatively recently to the New World—but he wasted no time inspiring the nouveau riche of the Main Line, wild frontier, and Barbary Coast to erect (by public subscription) Opery Houses, those gauche and gilded temples sacred to his cult.
These days he is more likely to cause the construction (by tax deductible donation) of a square-mile-sized, pre-stressed concrete neo-fascist styled, totally unnecessary acoustical joke called The (fill in the politician’s name here) Center for the Performing Arts.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: An overture (con brio) of clinking crystal and silver
cigarette cases snapping; a pizzicato of popping collar buttons; an arpeggio of uncultured pearls; a scherzo of stomach noises; a continuo of muted flatulence; a crescendo of self-satisfied sighs; a diminuendo of sucked dentures; and a coda of sonorous snores.
*The Philharmonic Orc makes passionate Overtures to bankers and their wives.