Yes, Garrick Ohlsson played at the Kennedy Center last Sunday afternoon. No, it wasn't easy. Ohlsson, a substitute for ailing Aldo Ciccolini, was playing a concerto with the Detroit Symphony the night before; so he arranged to fly into National at 11:30 and be chauffeured directly to the Kennedy Center by Douglas Wheeler of the Washington Performing Arts Society. But when Wheeler reached the airport he discovered that the flight (delayed by snow in Detroit) could not land in Washington because of fog. At 1:30, with Ohlsson still up in the air, Wheeler called his assistant, Jan Kendall, and asked her to call all the radio stations and tell them the concert was canceled. She did. At 2, Kendall got another call from Wheeler: "He'll be down in 20 minutes; call all the radio stations and tell them the concert is on." At 2:20, when she was finishing her second round of calls, an operator broke in. It was Wheeler again: "Sorry, they can't get in. Call the radio stations." She did. The final call, at 2:30, was from Patrick Hayes, who likes to deliver good news in person: "He's down in the car, and going to play. Please call the radio stations."
Meanwhile, at the Kennedy Center, those who had tickets walked in but those who went to the box office were told the concert was canceled. Some went down to their cars, turned on the radio and heard that the concert was on. Others went home, missed the concert and read a review in the paper the next morning. The Washington Performing Arts Society has been receiving some very interesting mail this week.