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Touring is a time of great excitement, intensity and fun on stage and off. It is a time when I get to know my colleagues through sharing powerful experiences. On the last tour (Esa-Pekka Salonen's last) to the far east, we played repertoire which had become our old friends, our signature pieces. After seventeen years with Esa-Pekka I knew what to expect at each performance. I did a lot of hiking in national parks in Seoul, Korea and a rainforest in the middle of Singapore when we had free days. On this US tour, we have played three concerts so far, and each one has been a big learning experience; getting to know the meaning of Gustavo's motions, giving him the flexibility he wants at the moment; really learning to dance with him. Each concert is a powerful statement and it's thrilling to grow together quickly and passionately. The houses are sold out, the audiences are cheering, and we are satisfyingly exhausted after each performance knowing we have given our all!
So, day four comes to a close after traveling from Phoenix to Chicago. It was time to celebrate. Back in March, knowing that we would have a free evening, Joe Pereira made reservations at one of this country's finest and most innovative restaurants, Alinea. Robert Gupta, Joanne Pearce Martin, Daniel Rothmuller and myself were lucky enough to join Joe and for his fiancée (and newest member of our first violin section), Minyoung Chang. We all love to cook, have shared meals in places that range from dive to elegant. We appreciate the similarities that cooking and eating share with music making. Last night became one of the most artistic, fun, deep and inspirational, six hour, 25-course performances of carefully balanced culinary nuance that any of us has experienced. For Robert, it was a near religious evening. I was transfixed by the vibrancy of each dish, its colors, flavors, textures and the unique presentation on specially made serving dishes. On the cab ride back to the hotel we were silent - lost in thought about what we had just experienced.
Playing in Chicago is a big deal with its historic symphony and hall. We haven't played here in a long time, and I (along with everyone else) want to play my best. I know that I'll have to walk off the food extravaganza or go to the gym to not feel sluggish. When we take the stage tonight, each of us in the orchestra will come with confidence and a few butterflies, but ready to play our best. My little gang will also take our passion, bonding and energy from last night and put it right into our playing. What a great privilege it is to play in this orchestra with my beautiful colleagues. Now let's go and show Chicago what the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel have to say!