On Monday, October 29, 2007, the Los Angeles Philharmonic embarked on an 18-day concert tour of England, France, Spain and Portugal. Check back here to see what the musicians are up to, as we post their tour journals and photos.
Stacy and I had the honor of sharing dinner with Philharmonic Board members Ann and Tony Cannon and Philharmonic Director of Public Relations Adam Crane. It was after our concert in Paris at Salle Pleyel (November 6), which made it a late-night meal but?is it possible to find a bad dinner in Paris? Mais oui, but there are so many wonderful choices that make this a difficult venture.
I rmbemeer reeicinvg an eaiml ocne taht siad taht the bairn olny nedeed the frist and lsat lteetr of a wrod to be in the crorcet pstoiion in oderr for a wrod to be cmpoheerisnlbe. The early part of the tour experience is a lot like that for me. The length of travel, lack of sleep, lure of the pub, and general excitement of performing on tour all combine to form a cocktail of disorientation. Familiar elements are present that help to ground me: my wife, daughter, and mother joined me on this trip, but I still feel like it takes me a while to get my bearings.
Upon arrival at our hotel after an overnight flight from LAX, everyone's concern is the same: clean up, eat, and stay up as late as possible. The first night of sleep is never a problem. It is the first full day and second night that will dictate how quickly we can adapt to the new time zone. So, on the first morning in London, the first order of business is finding coffee. Starbuck's has invaded every street corner here. But preferring to sample local fare, a couple of colleagues and I opt for Valentino's, a small café which promises a full English breakfast for 3.90 pounds ($8.00). The coffee is excellent and we end up lingering for over an hour deep in conversation.
While on tour, the orchestra tends to split itself socially along instrument lines. There are the bass boys, the brass guys, and the freshman class, to name a few. While some cross pollination takes place, we tend to find our "people" and stick with them.
Fresh off the bus from Heathrow, and after a quick splash of water on our faces at the hotel (our suitcases hadn't been delivered yet!), a small group of us met back in the lobby to start our adventure. The brave ones: violinists Martin Chalifour, Mitch Newman, Ingrid Chun, and Lawrence Gamma, cellist Danny Rothmuller, and myself. Never mind that we were all starving; the first objective was to get ourselves to North London as quickly and economically as possible. (This is London, after all, where a single ride on the Tube is four POUNDS!) Once we were in the vicinity of the jazz club, then we could quickly grab something to eat, we hoped.
Fast forward to a group of jet-lagged musicians in the Tube station, trying to figure out the best way to do this — eventually, we all bought our "Oyster" cards — a nifty card you can top off at any time, which gets you multiple Tube and bus rides for a fraction of the "single ride" costs.
On Monday at 7pm sharp we left Disney Hall for LAX by bus. After what seemed like a very long 9 ? hours, we arrived at London Heathrow to a beautiful, sunny afternoon. We arrived at our hotel very tired and hungry. London has a plethora of wonderful restaurants so the choices for dinner were nearly overwhelming. My wife and I chose a fish and chips place, The Fryer's Delight. Others chose more exotic fare for dinner. But the most interesting entertainment choice of the evening was made by a group of musicians, lead by our keyboardist, Joanne Pearce Martin, who attended a musical event not to be found anywhere else on the planet.
It takes efforts on many fronts to project our musical pursuits to a European audience. As musicians, we work very hard to bring our "product" up to the highest standards but without our Production Director, Paul Geller, and his crew of Stage Technicians, Cesar Melgar, Alex Quintanar, and Michael Sheppard, our musical pursuits would quite literally never fly. These are the people who do the thankless, behind the scenes work that we all appreciate so much. They make us musicians feel almost as if we were at home no matter where we are, so that we can perform at our best. It is staggering to me what they move:
Today 106 members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic are traveling as a group to London to begin the 2007 European Tour. On a personal level, there are many things to prepare, above and beyond the rudimentary packing that we all must do. These preparations are as varied and different as the individual circumstances of each member of the orchestra. Some must shop, some must make arrangements for the care of a home or pets, others must make arrangements for the care of young children?a truly daunting task. I speak from my own experience of having had to make arrangements for our two teenagers and one pre-teen while we are away. But I must confess that it is my wife Stacy (a member of the Philharmonic's first violin section) who does the lion's share of the arranging - I am just the errand boy. These necessary arrangements are made by all those who have responsibilities at home in addition to our Philharmonic lives, but I thought it might be interesting, if not exhausting, reading to hear from Los Angeles Philharmonic woodwind player Cathy Ransom Karoly (flute), who is married to Jonathan Karoly (cello), also a member of the Phil.
Jonathan and I thought for many months about how we would manage our family and this tour. We both play in the orchestra, AND we have a two-year-old daughter named Hannah and 10-month-old boy/girl twins named Ian and Eva.
We considered bringing them all, plus four grandparents and a babysitter (three kids under the age of three require a LOT of help!!!), but the expense and expected wear and tear on us seemed to outweigh the benefits of having them with us. We knew that leaving them all home wouldn't be a great idea since Hannah is a handful, and we couldn't quite imagine having both sets of grandparents stay at our house the whole time to care for them (these kids require at least three grandparents to manage them!). We also considered the option of Jonathan staying home with the twins and I bringing Hannah and my mom with me, but the thought of trying to stay well rested while sharing a hotel room with my daughter and mother for two weeks, plus not seeing my husband and babies, didn't seem so great.