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Did PercaDu play a practical joke at the Hollywood Bowl?

July 29, 2009 | 10:26 am


There was a genuine "what just happened?" moment at the Hollywood Bowl last night -- one that left audiences and some high-ranking L.A. Philharmonic officers scratching their heads.

The Israeli percussion duo PercaDu had just finished playing Avner Dorman's "Spices, Perfumes, Toxins!" and announced that they were going to perform a Bach cantata as an encore. Less than a minute into the piece, one of the musicians, Tomer Yariv, stopped and indicated to his partner that he had messed up. The duo looked embarrassed and slightly flustered.

So PercaDu started the Bach over again. But at the same spot, Yariv stopped the performance, as if he had forgotten the music. Again, much awkward silence.

Then Adi Morag announced that they were scrapping the Bach and would attempt another piece -- Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumblebee." The duo rearranged their instruments and launched into a technically difficult arrangement of the piece that had them switching positions and playing the marimbas facing backwards. It was a practically flawless performance.

All of which raises the question -- was the whole episode one big joke on the audience?

Those audience members whom Culture Monster spoke to after the concert expressed complete bewilderment. Most were unsure if it was a gag or if PercaDu had truly messed up on stage.

At one point, we overheard Deborah Borda, the president of the L.A. Phil, saying, "It was a joke on me. It was a surprise to me." Another Philharmonic officer who wished to go unnamed said that if it was a mistake, then "it was a very embarrassing one."

Culture Monster caught up with PercaDu after the concert and put the question to them.

"Well, did you think it was a mistake?" replied Morag, with a big grin. Despite further prodding, the duo refused to explain the on-stage incident.

"So you want to remain mysterious?" we asked.

"Yes," replied Morag.

-- David Ng

Return to Culture Monster later today for Mark Swed's review of the Tuesday night's performance at the Bowl.

Photo: The Israeli percussion duo PercaDu: Tomer Yariv, left, and Adi Morag. Credit: PercaDu