This is one of those “blink and you miss it” tours. You see it coming up in the schedule and the weekend away seems innocuous enough but then you take a closer look… Two nights away performing three concerts passing through Vienna, Brno, St Pölten and Essen… hmm work that one out! I can’t and I’m here!
What I’ve discovered in my years touring with the LSO is that I have an amazing gift. No, it’s nothing vaguely musical – basically I can sleep anywhere and at any time. My husband calls this “going to Kipland” (if only I could get frequent flyer miles). This ability is pure gold for an orchestral musician. For example, after a performance of Faust at the Barbican on Thursday night there were very few hours to sleep before the 7.30am check-in at Heathrow for a flight to Vienna. That morning I felt so grotty that even the thought of duty free and a full English breakfast didn’t perk me up. But I napped on the flight (always manage to wake just as the food trolley reaches me though, another talent!) and then there was the two and a half hour coach journey to Brno in the Czech Republic. Big time Kipland for me, listening to Stephen Fry reading some Harry Potter. Therefore by the concert I felt pretty refreshed and thanks to the awesome power of makeup, looked alert too! I always feel sorry for those people who can’t sleep on planes, tall colleagues who can never get comfy on a coach or those who end up near the person who doesn’t seem to need sleep and is chatting loudly whatever the time. If we are looking for new sponsors I’d suggest we approach all makers of noise-cancelling headphones. I think everyone in the LSO has a pair! Seriously though, I’m always in awe of my colleagues on these crazy days, being able to pull out all the stops and play like well-rested demons.
I notice people have different ways of keeping healthy during punishing schedules such as this weekend. There are a number of fitness fanatics who use hotel gyms to keep up their energy levels or a few that go running. (It’s useful to befriend the latter as they generally scope out post-concert restaurants on their travels.) I confess I do nothing more than flex credit cards and lift knives and forks. I did ask Neil if he would snap this picture of me with the Dies Irae bells that he hits offstage during Symphonie fantastique. I have to say that metal rod thing is bloody heavy! That was surely 2 calories burnt holding that for the photo.
Nigel in the 1st violins is now a qualified masseuse so tends to the many physical ailments caused by orchestral playing. Today between arriving in St Pölten and the rehearsal he pummelled three colleagues into submission. Can he call that work when I’m sure it’s very enjoyable?! Nigel is also in charge of health and safety so I draw his attention to roadie Dan, backstage, and about to plummet as he closes the cello boxes ready for the tour.
Travelling through so many countries you pick up medicines where ever you go. Generally we get painkillers from the US as they’re stronger – no one seemed to bat an eyelid when Sylvain bought 700 of these babies back from NYC two weeks ago. I had an email from violinist Sarah Chang today asking me if I could stop by an Apoteke to get some specific cough drops she likes to travel with. She’s converted me to a great balm for cuts and bruises (we fall off our heels a lot) that I now buy whenever I’m in Austria, and because she’s touring the Far East right now she’s been extolling the praises of a Korean mozzie bite cream that I must get when we go back there on tour in March. So, if you ever need medical advice, best to ask a musician I say!
Speaking of musicians’ fitness I can’t really let this blog go without a mention of the football match held in London last week. We were challenged by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to a match on their free day in London, who rocked up with their own special kit and coach. You may have read about it on Twitter or heard the (disastrous) results on Classic FM. We were also joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Guildhall School of Music and Drama students. We unfortunately came 4th (yes, we even lost to sleep-deprived students living on bags of crisps and beer) but I have to say in our defence that our team was the most mature, if that’s a polite way to describe it, AND we fielded a team where EVERYONE was an LSO member or admin staff… ahem. I was the lone cheerleader from the players, joined by LSO’s queen of media Jo Johnson, so we resolved to make some flags next time to boost team spirit. Thankfully there were no serious injuries, although a few hobbled onto the stage that night.
I think it’s my bedtime now, for tomorrow we’ll be flying from Austria to Essen for a concert and then straight back to London that night, although I for one will also be making a couple of passes through Kipland.