A Case of Mistaken Identity

By Scott Flavin

Some years ago, violinist Gil Shaham came to town to work with the New World Symphony (NWS), performing and giving classes. I had a student playing for him, so I went to his master class (which was wonderful) and was given a free ticket for his concerto performance with NWS the following evening. I was playing an afternoon concert in the same hall that day, so I was very happy to be able to go.

I played my concert, and had dinner at a nearby restaurant. Unfortunately, the place was packed, so my dinner took far longer than I expected. Still in my tuxedo and carrying my violin case, I ran to the theater, arriving just as the first piece ended. Phew, I hadn’t missed Gil! As I took my seat, an elderly usher came up to me and said, “Sir! Thank you so much for being here! You sound so wonderful; it is an honor to have you play here!” I thanked him for coming to my performance, and sat down.


As I was settling in, he came back, with a program and pen in his hand. “Sir, would you please?” he asked.

“Certainly,” I answered. I took the program from him, and found it was open to the full-page photo of . . . Gil Shaham! What was I to do?

Without a moment’s hesitation, I signed, “Best wishes, Gil Shaham.”

He thanked me profusely and sat down a few rows ahead of me. No more than three seconds after he was seated, a hush came over the orchestra, and out walked (you guessed it) Gil Shaham. I could see “my” fan perfectly from my vantage point; he leaned forward, squinting at the stage, and immediately turned back to me several times. I couldn’t help but sink down in my seat, though the audience members on either side of me found the incident highly amusing. Mercifully, Gil started playing right away, so the focus shifted where it should have—to his beautiful playing.

As the audience rose to applaud at the end, I high-tailed it out of there, thankfully avoiding my (probably former) fan.