So far, we've been on this European tour for a little more than a week, and while the stellar level of music-making has been the main focus of my first tour with this orchestra, I've really grown to appreciate the determination and discipline required by members of a touring, first-class orchestra, especially given our challenging repertory. I didn't quite know what to expect from the whole tour experience, but I've learned that pacing oneself mentally and physically throughout the two-week journey is paramount. Many in this orchestra have become touring "veterans," but continue to practice and perform with tremendous intensity and integrity; one of our most vivacious members has been in this orchestra for more than 50 years! I respect him immensely.
This has been a tremendously positive experience so far. We started our tour at the Barbican in London. The interior of this beautiful hall is surprisingly different from its modernist outer faÁade. Being used to the bright colors at Disney (after less than four months on the job), I discovered that the Barbican supported a darker, richer overtone, and was not nearly as responsive as our beautiful hall back home in L.A. Concertgoers and Barbican staff alike mentioned that they had never before heard a bass section sound the way ours did on this stage.
The Barbican is a comfortable hall to play in, although what the audience hears is very different than what we experience on stage. I had a chance to listen to a sound check of the Saariaho [Quatre instants], and the sound projects from the stage surprisingly well, compared to how unresponsive the hall feels as we play on stage.
After two concerts at the Barbican, we moved on to Paris, to play at the Salle Pleyel. This is a larger, brighter sounding hall, with a huge, sweeping orchestra section, and high balconies. The winds projected beautifully here, and despite the huge stage, I could hear balances within the string sections far better than I could in London. What was amazing at the Salle Pleyel was how we were welcomed by the Parisian audiences; their enthusiastic ovations seemed endless, as they received and appreciated every piece with joy.
We move on to the Iberian Peninsula tomorrow. Performing in Europe is a very different experience from performing in the U.S., not only because of the audiences, but also because of the venues in which we perform. A performance hall serves as a physical manifestation of a culture's appreciation and respect of the performing arts, as we know from experience in Los Angeles. Touring is far more than only performing in another country - it's one culture presenting and wholeheartedly offering its greatest accomplishment, its art, to another. Spain, here we come.