Becker smothers three, is a great guy

Steve Martin

Orchestra director David Becker smothered three and injured two in what some Conservatory wags are calling an unintended lesson in “tough love.”
According to Conservatory dean Robert Thayer, while the university policy on smothering typically calls for immediate suspension and review by a committee of peers, Becker is a special case because, “let’s be honest, he’s a really great, well-meaning guy.”
The incident took place in the foyer behind the chapel the evening of March 10 as Becker moved to congratulate saxophone soloist Jesse Dochnahl after the entire concert had ended. Though Becker’s hands were around timpanist Mike Truesdell’s neck in a kind embrace, and Dochnahl was across the room being congratulated by his peers, Becker nonetheless experienced an outpouring of gratitude, congratulations, and camaraderie.
According to the police report, though no charges were formally filed, Becker moved instinctively toward Dochnahl without remembering to let go of Truesdell, dragging the timpanist across the room. This is where things started to go “a bit wrong,” as Thayer put it.
The March 10 concert was geared toward families, and so 28 children from an unidentified elementary school had lined up to shake the maestro’s hands. They turned out to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though Dochnahl escaped unharmed, Truesdell’s neck has been hurting quite a bit.
“Oh, I’m hella mad. HELLA mad,” Truesdell screamed, smiling his usual congenial smile.
This was not the first time that Becker’s zeal for congratulation and comradeship got the best of him. Disciplinary files unearthed from University of Wisconsin-Madison reveal the fallout from 1996’s “Beethoven’s Ninth Incident” that threatened to torpedo an otherwise spotless career.
According to the files, after cutting off the final note of the famous symphony, Becker shook hands with the principal bassist so vigorously that he flew into the guest soprano soloist, Kathleen Battle, who was already feeling a bit “under the weather” that night. Battle sued and settled out of court, but she has reportedly not sounded the same since and blames Becker, as well as the weather and her vocal technique.
Becker, for his part, has remained serious and apologetic. In a statement to the people of the world, Becker wrote:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I care very deeply about this music. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. And it is a privilege to make music with you and to share it with others, especially the young, who may not have been lucky enough to have heard this music before. Please, ladies and gentlemen, may I ask your permission to allow me to apologize? I am apologizing to you for perhaps being a bit too excited in my congratulations, and I will try to contain myself, but please: know that I will not try to contain my gratitude or my joy for this music. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time.