My favorite part of this tour has to be the songs by Saariaho [Quatres instants], which were sung fantastically by Karita Mattila. It is both a musical moment and, oddly enough, a visual one too, that will live on in my memory.
These songs were new to us. We had a rehearsal in L.A. in October, then two weeks later, a rehearsal in Paris. To watch Karita and Esa-Pekka interact was delightful. They spoke Finnish to each other, laughing like two friends who just love the opportunity to work together.
The performance at the Barbican felt electric from the start - partly because of the two rehearsals weeks apart, and partly because of Karita: she looked stunning and has a presence on stage that takes your breath away.
One aspect of touring which I truly look forward to is sizing up the different exercise possibilities in each city we visit. I'm finding (as I advance in years!) that jogging not only helps me stay in shape, but actually keeps me alert for evening performances. I'm lucky that on this tour I've found the perfect running partner - my husband (and fellow Philharmonic violist) Mick! We staked out some pretty neat runs shortly after our arrival in London.
Our first was a brisk jog just around the corner from our hotel, down Kings Way and across Waterloo Bridge, our destination being the pedestrian path along the Thames River. The weather was quite crisp and, except for the mad rush of constant pedestrian traffic on our run back to the hotel, we enjoyed "ticking off" prominent landmarks as we jogged past them: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and 10 Downing Street being the highlights.
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.
I'm not one to wander far from the group or participate in high adventure, so when I found myself stranded at the Brussels train station by myself with no credit card and very little cash, I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. I was on my way back to Paris from visiting my sister, who lives near Mons, Belgium. I had had a lovely time visiting with my nieces and nephews the previous day, and I had to get back to Paris in time for the 8:00 concert that night. My sister and her husband had arranged for my trip and with ticket in hand I waved goodbye at the Mons train station. Everything was great until I got to Brussels.
It was a dark and stormy night. OK, so maybe it wasn't stormy or night, but it was dark. When my alarm clock shrieked to life at 6 a.m., playing some hip British cross between hard rock and ritual sacrifice, I glanced through heavy slits and knew there had been some kind of terrible mistake. Yes, I had intended to set the alarm for 6:00. No, I had not planned on staying up "bonding" with my colleagues the previous night until 1 a.m. Sleep had been fitful and intermittent, woefully inadequate for the day that lay in front of me.
It is a truly wonderful thing to play with the LA Phil, but playing with this orchestra on a European tour is even better, in my opinion. Musically, everything has been completely exciting and beautiful. The fact that before concerts I get to explore Europe's treasures means I am constantly full of inspiration before I even step on stage.
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.