The end of our tour has arrived, and we are on our way home. Our last concert was in Madrid, Spain, at Teatro Zarzuela. The program consisted of three compositions by Sibelius, Pohjola's Daughter, Symphony No. 3, and Symphony No. 1. It is one of the trickiest programs of the tour, and it never got any easier. Because of the challenging acoustics and logistics of this particular hall, and because it was at the end of the tour, it might have been tempting to not put our hearts into this performance but that sort of thing is not in us. I have played in many different halls with this orchestra over the last 14 years, and we have made some less than perfect halls resonate beautifully. This turned out to be the case in Madrid. In my conversations with my colleagues following the concert, we shared the perception that Esa-Pekka, in spite of the hall, was digging in his heels and giving it his all. I found his passion very motivating and contagious, and that contagion extended to the audience. It was a great way, musically, to end the tour.
In my role as the writer and organizer of this journal, I have had my eyes opened on many levels. I have always had an appreciation and respect for the professionalism and passion of my fellow players. They give me a personal and instrumental standard to reach for. I have also, through this experience, had a keener eye for the work and dedication of our crew. They have hauled our stuff all over the European continent and back home again with the tender loving care that belies the physical strength and stamina of these guys. But I must confess that, in the eye-opening category, our Philharmonic staff has revealed themselves to be the unsung heroes of the tour. I am sure I will inadvertently omit some, and I apologize in advance, butGuido Frackers from TravTours handles all the logistics of getting us where we need to be in terms of transportation. This is a man who is an expert traveler and arranger of travel, and he just happens to speak seven languages fluently. I feel pretty sporty being able to speak English and French fairly well until I encounter Guido speaking Dutch to one person, Czech to another, and Spanish to yet another. His assistant, Garrit Jan, was also very helpful and efficient. We had Jeff Pursell handling security very adroitly, with Dr. Robert Wolfe and Dr. Andrew Wachtel as our tour doctors.
I wanted to get a picture of our Philharmonic staff, consisting of Gail Samuel, Chad Smith, Adam Crane, Laura Dixon, Jeffrey Neville, Daniel Song, and Bill Williams, but they were never in the same place at the same time; those who were doing post-concert work were where we had been, those who were working at the concert itself were with the orchestra, and those who were doing the advance work for the next concert were where we were going to be. I am thankful for their dedication and all their hard work. I would especially like to thank Gail Samuel for preventing me from taking the wrong stairway, a six-inch margin of error that would have made the difference between a final destination of LAX or Bora Bora.
When the Philharmonic played its final notes of the tour in Madrid on Wednesday, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and outwardly demonstrated this with the customary shuffling of our feet, an orchestra musician's subtle version of a standing ovation. With a new awareness of the work that lay ahead for the staff over the next two days, I can happily report that they were successful, because I am writing this from my kitchen in La Cañada.