Our tours make it possible for other cities to get a taste of what LA offers musically. On this tour some of us decided to get a taste of what other cities offer in the culinary world. I made reservations at several restaurants with big name chefs: Rick Bayless, José Andrés and Tom Colicchio.
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!
We flew into Chicago from Phoenix today. Concert last night went well; the audience was very enthusiastic and vocal...almost rowdy! Symphony Hall in Phoenix is right down the street from Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks. Fans were arriving for a game as we were coming to the hall for the concert. I remarked to a friend how funny it would be if the Dodgers were in town the same night the Phil is next door playing a concert. Turns out that the Dodgers were in fact there! What are the chances?
I feel very sentimental coming to Chicago and playing in this hall. It's my hometown and I grew up hearing the CSO, and playing on this stage. It's always great to be back.
On the agenda tomorrow: early morning run along the lakefront; time with family and friends; concert; Uno's for post-concert pizza.
In the wake of the devastating floods in Nashville, the Nashville Symphony’s presentation of Gustavo Dudamel with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, scheduled for Saturday, May 15, has moved to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). The performance was originally scheduled to take place at Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, which sustained substantial water damage in the floods. To help replace Steinway pianos lost in the damage, a gift of $25,000 will be donated jointly to the Nashville Symphony from musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Thibaudet, who hand-picked the Nashville Symphony’s Hamburg Steinway lost in the flood, has agreed to select another new piano.
Wow! What an evening in Phoenix. I spent almost the entire time seeing many of my friends from years spent here in the past and sharing some of my favorites places with my colleagues in the Phil. In the afternoon a few of us went to my favorite 'Soul food' place, Mrs. White's for some down-home cooking. Mmmmm-mmm! Then on to the concert to perform the Adams and the Mahler. Prior to the concert the Phoenix Symphony CEO Maryellen Gleason was gracious enough to introduce me as a former member to the audience. The reaction from the audience, many of whom were my friends, was an unexpected pleasure. The was seemingly an endless number of my former 'peeps' to visit with during the intermission and after the concert. The Phil played wonderfully and seemingly the entire town was in awe of Gustavo. All in all it added up a great, albeit short visit to Phoenix. Now off to Chicago!
The subject of Arizona politics is clearly a hot-button issue on this tour, but I decided that this is not the forum in which to discuss the fact that myself and several other members of the orchestra have chosen to avoid spending money while in Phoenix despite the presence of a convenient, popular, “owl-themed”, national chain restaurant directly across from the hotel. While I sit here in my hotel room and savor the flavor and mouth-feel of what is probably my second of three “Pure Protein” bars that will have to suffice for sustenance today, I am eagerly awaiting this evening’s concert. The first to performances in San Francisco crackled with an excitement and electricity that I know will only crescendo to a climax at our final concerts in New York.
A world-class orchestra needs world-class support, so please let me take this opportunity to thank our peerless staff and crew for allowing me to “leave my brain at home” (Is this our bus? Should I get on this bus?) and focus exclusively on music making for two whirlwind weeks.