(Got you reading didn’t I?)
For my gang it’s usually an obsessive need to find particular eats (for me, shops). We’re not back in New York until 2015 and Sylvain has mentioned a certain Brazilian churrascaria at least three times already on this tour, and I’m worrying my Sephora points might expire if I don’t use them this year. So you see how this stuff really preys on our minds in hotel rooms late at night.
On this trip we were desperate to visit famous Taiwanese dumpling restaurant “Din tai fung”. Being a BBC (Bromley born Chinese) I had kindly been texted the Chinese characters by a relative to show a cab driver. It might have said, “don’t take the fat little dumpling anywhere near this restaurant”; I wouldn’t know. However, we failed miserably in Taipei since it would close long before the concert ended (even if I tried rushing from the back) and we didn’t have the time or inclination on reaching a rain-soaked city centre for more than a bite in the room and a few minutes shut eye before the rehearsal.
However we had success in Kaohsiung, a place I admit I had never heard of until this tour. I think I will make it my mission to be photographed with every little dumpling man that graces the entrance. I do have a picture of violinist Sarah Chang and myself with the dumpling man at a branch in HK but since we had chowed down on vast quantities pre-photo we basically look like three little dumplings in a row. So to preserve my vanity and a close friendship, that photo goes unpublished.
The two halls in Taiwan were polar opposites in building style, Taipei being in a grand imperial style whereas the Kaohsiung complex had the feeling of being an extension to the concrete jungle that is our Barbican home. The audiences listened with rapt attention, the latter concert being relayed on giant screens to the enthusiastic audience outside. Yuja, resplendent in another mini Herve Leger (dammit, mine go unworn in my suitcase as I look like a hippo in comparison), made us smile with her dazzling Petrushka encore and I’m sure it crossed a few people’s minds that she could avail herself for the second half of some of our concerts and give us a night off? Something to ask her post-concert over a glass of wine perhaps.
The hotel bars are great places for setting the world to rights and an excellent place to collar the conductor if you want to hint at a galactic-style encore for the next concert. It’s fun to have a young conductor and soloist on the tour as they more often than not share a drink with players and if you’re lucky, sometimes a little gossip too. As Daniel was showing us some YouTube clips tonight I strained to see if there was anything racy in the history but sadly readers, nothing to report.
Today we reached the halfway point concert-wise of the tour. I often wonder at this surreal life – we have our little habits, comforts and idiosyncrasies on tour and I was reminded that fun as it can be travelling and seeing new places, being ill (as one guest wind principal sadly is) so far from home is no fun. It’s pretty tough for guests/trialists on long tours – looking keen, diligently trying to keep up the practise, whilst wanting to be sociable too. Claire, on trial in the 1st violins, finds herself wondering five minutes before the rehearsal is due to begin in Taipei if she’s at the right concert hall..
Tomorrow we fly to what is the core of the tour for me – Hong Kong! The concert was a sell-out within days as all my family clamoured for tickets, having last seen the LSO at the Cultural Centre in 2007. Hope I won’t jinx it by saying, “Rousing encore at the end of the night there shall be”.