Aix Episode 6: LSO v ODP

By | July 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm | 4 comments | Aix-en-Provence Festival 2013, LSO On Tour | Tags: , , , , , ,

The beginning of week four saw about twenty pasty people from the orchestra arrive from London for a symphonic concert of Britten and Shostakovitch to be held at the Grand Theatre. It was easy to spot these ghostly apparitions – even though London has been going through a heatwave this last week, we have had the massive advantage of a three-week headstart here in Aix. On being asked how I got so brown, a friend replied that I had been getting some serious pool action for three weeks. “Pool action?” That’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one!

Nothing stopped the boundless energy of Noseda – not even the non-existant air con at the Venelles studio which wasn’t up to the job of keeping us cool, let alone at a normal functioning body temperature. I frantically waved my emergency fan (kept in my violin case with essentials such as lipstick, sweets, eyeliner.. ) like a deranged person (ironically making myself hotter with the effort) which amused Noseda greatly (I think he was secretly jealous) and made my desk partner lean over in the vain hope of some tiny breeze.

The heavens opened for the Britten Sea Interludes starting our concert, ironically the only indoor performance of ours for five weeks (No comment). The rain must have hampered principal cellist Tim’s mad dash back to the hall, having wrongly assumed the concert started, like the operas, at 9.30pm as opposed to 8pm. He just made it in time for the second piece, Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, in which we were joined by fantastic musicians Chris Parkes and Ian Bostridge. In his concert attire I can’t help thinking Bostridge must be fending off numerous invitations to star in the next series of Downton Abbey. It was a strange feeling being onstage after so many performances hidden away in the Pit. Suddenly seeing the whites of the audience’s eyes after a few weeks was rather unnerving so I made sure to go and re-brush my hair in the interval.

A lovely lady and great friend of the LSO, Susie Thompson threw a fantastic post-concert reception on the roof terrace of the Grand Theatre. Susie is very generous to the orchestra knowing that after a concert the players will mow down their own grandmothers to get to the bar. She recounted a time bringing huge boxes of Laduree macaroons backstage and saying any leftovers would keep in the fridge for four days. I don’t think she knew the orchestra so well then because, as I recall, within ten minutes the empty boxes looked like a plague of locusts had swept through the Barbican backstage. There was much laughter, eating and drinking with players doing double takes at their watches exclaiming, “We’d only be halfway through Don Giovanni!” Again we thank Susie for being a wonderful and generous hostess from the bottom of our hearts even if our waistlines/livers groaned the next day. Susie is pictured in the centre with a motley bunch of us – we dragged Charlie Gomm into shot to try and give us a young, hip demographic.

News from the hotel – I was wondering if my dear violinist friend in the room next to me had morphed into a great virtuoso but soon discovered the room opposite was now being occupied by the leader of L’Orchestre de Paris. (I won’t be getting my violin out in my hotel room that’s for sure.) The orchestra have been in the Grand Theatre performing Richard Strauss’ Elektra and I have to add that they are in Aix for a month and are playing a grand total of… five opera performances and a couple of symphonic concerts. Wimps! With a few of them now staying in the hotel, space by the pool is at a premium but I am proud to announce the LSO players have always got their towels down at the poolside first with only one German among us!

Here is an example of what the Paris lot like to get up to poolside – some calming yoga poses pre-rehearsal from the brass. On the other side of the pool we have LSO principals Rod and Neil who like nothing better than cooking up practical jokes featuring fictional character Pierre Malfeasance. To cut a long story short(er), a letter was printed out on hotel stationery from said “hotel manager” and addressed to Evgeny (principal 2nd violin) involving paying swimming pool charges. Here they are two seconds after Neil and Rod ‘fessed up five days later. Looks like someone is in for a kicking KGB style. Watch your back Rod…


  1. Paul Davies (1 year ago)

    Thanks for these interesting insights Maxine, it begs me to ask whether the residency at Aix becomes a holiday / R & R for you hard travelling folks as well as providing a strong support for the festival.

    Reading your blogs, Gareth’s blogs and his book allow me realise the pressures under which you all live – being away from home so much, living out of suitcases, irregular hours, constant travel and having to practice, rehearse and putting on a show of superb quality for the paying pubic must take it out of you.

    Thanks to all of you for your efforts – we (the public) certainly do appreciate what you do. I know that my life has become a lot easier since I stopped all the travelling over Europe (generally for meetings and site visits), but the stories of “getting up at 5 am, driving to Stansted . . . . . . . . doing a rehearsal and show . . . . . catching the late flight back home . . . . . getting into bed at 02:30 the next morning” certainly had a ring of familiarity about them!

    PS: Please thank Rod for his recommendation to me about the book “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sachs – that also makes fascinating reading.

  2. Paul Davies (1 year ago)

    Whoops – sorry about the typo in para 2 of the above . . . . . . . . . looks a bit Freudian to me :-(

  3. Paul Davies (1 year ago)

    Hi again Maxine
    Just been reading some comments about the Prom in 2010, when a certain person was alleged to have worn ” . . . . a tiara and stole . . . “. Do you think that this person would be considerate towards “. . . . those poor old prommers . . . ” this year on 13-Aug and/or 20-Aug? ~8-)

  4. Maxine Kwok-Adams (1 year ago)

    Paul – that’s quite a typo… ;-)
    I admit Aix was rather like a holiday – a really superb 5 weeks.
    I am sure a tiara and stole can be acquired for the proms if we can find a willing participant…..


© 2011 LSO. All rights reserved.

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: