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The LA Phil's road crew - (from l-r) Jesse Kolouch, Production Director Paul Geller, Alex Quintanar and Chris Duarte (not pictured - Production Manager Jeff Wallace)
Putting a tour together takes work. It's not all standing ovations and sightseeing - it's WORK. Travel schedules are brutal, rehearsal times short and hotel checkouts early. And, indeed, when the orchestra arrives in a location, the road crew has likely gone ahead of them to make sure the aforementioned time crunches affect the performances as little as possible.
Take the LA Phil's current tour, for example. As of today (that'd be Thursday, MAR 14), the entire orchestra and traveling staff, 10 YOLA kids and three truckloads of equipment are all in London, ready to perform the first concert of the tour - a Green Umbrella program with music by John Adams, Unsuk Chin and the orchestra's own Joe Pereira. Great, right? Everything's gone smoothly, right?
Not on your life.
As noted earlier in this blog, the orchestra's equipment went out on Monday in advance of the actual musicians - and, when you're putting on a staged oratorio along with two separate orchestral programs, that's a lot of equipment. According to members of the road crew, the flight to Holland - the closest airport to London that can handle so much cargo - was uneventful, but upon arrival, inclement weather in London stalled the caravan to Old Blighty. That's right - it snowed, forcing the production team to scramble a little bit. LA Phil Production Director Paul Geller picks up the story here:
HEADS UP! Truck Traffic Forbidden to Travel in the Nord Pas de Calais Region due to Heavy snow and bad weather conditions. [S...] called me just before we finished loading out from Amsterdam. He's very concerned because there is such a long back up of trucks that even if they should open in the near future he does not think we will make the load-in.
But he wouldn't be our Prodction Director without a few tricks up his sleeve:
We diverted the three trucks to Rotterdam and have booked them on tonight’s overnight ferry to Hull which will get into port at 6:30 a.m. in the morning. They will then run down to London but may not make midday. We have informed [J...] at the Barbican so that she can inform our load in crew and make time changes if necessary. We may need to re-adjust the orchestra instrument pick up time but will get a better feel for it in the morning.
Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, the road crew was able to get to the Barbican Centre so the orchestra group - yes, there's multiple groups of orchestra members on this tour - could have their first rehearsal for tonight's Green Umbrella concert.
And that doesn't even take into account the fact that Principal Clarinetist Michele Zukovsky left her reeds here in LA, requiring Orchestra Personnel Manager Jeffrey Neville to bring them when he left a day later.
Luckily, the LA Phil, from orchestra to staff to crew, is made up of people that can get the job done. It's proven time and again here at home, and, in that sense, being on the road is no different.