People often ask why I take so many photos on tour, especially of food. I think it started on my first tours when I would be travelling all over the place and eager to show what I was eating to my parents. More than a dozen years later I no longer have to pack a camera to capture meals the world over, and with the ease and stealth of phones, tend to photograph everything I find interesting or amusing, or photobomb myself with the likes of director Tim Burton (last Saturday at Air Studios). Much as my colleagues laugh, I’m glad I do as it serves as a great record, especially of how much weight we put on or lose (in my case, put on) over the years and how quickly some are losing their hair. These days with camera phones it’s all too easy for people to snap pics unawares, here the Maestro Daniel Harding points to the music, maybe to let me know I’m to look here and not at my phone during rehearsals, and fellow blogger Gareth quickly captures some violin playing that sadly wasn’t a video clip.
I found a great photo recently, not one I took myself mind, but one that was relevant to this patch of work: a lovely picture taken at the 1991 National Youth Orchestra course in Newbury. There are a handful of LSO members in the picture (thankfully we’re too small to be discernible) but there’s also a very unblingy, un-made-up Maxine in the same row as an extremely blonde floppy-haired Daniel Harding, who seems to be shouting something rude at the photographer. Who knew then that we would reach such dizzying heights? Him of fame and me of bling…
This is the last tour of 2013 if unless you count a day trip to Birmingham next month with MTT (mind you, it probably takes longer to get to Birmingham than it did to travel here). It’s not been an easy couple of days, again up at the crack of dawn (for many, too early to get the tube/train to Heathrow) knowing later in the day you need to be 100% “with it” to perform Act 2 from Wagner’s Tristan in Madrid, not a piece we were familiar with at all. We are as always, grateful to Alfonso Aijon, our tour promoter, who keeps us refreshed and awake by providing the orchestra with free drinks (soft naturally) backstage, I think many cafe con leche were consumed yesterday afternoon. We are lucky to have such a lovely, generous man as a great friend to the orchestra.
Schubert’s “unfinished” symphony (AKA music to accompany Smurf Village), was somewhat marred by a hearing aid that whistled constantly and at a piercing pitch. I can’t imagine how that must have been for those in the direct vicinity but it was rather distracting and probably had every stray dog in Madrid congregating outside the concert hall. The Wagner was an edge of your seat performance to say the least, and I confess I might have missed a note here and there. We repeat the concert at the Barbican on Thursday so I for one get a second chance at the opening of the 3rd scene.
Due to our newly appointed principal bassoon Daniel Jemison being taken ill, our wonderful second bassoonist Joost bravely stepped into the breach and performed as if he’d been playing these works all his life. I really hope he had a really big glass of Rioja after the concert as he truly deserved it!
Tonight we perform Stravinsky’s complete Firebird ballet, which we last played some weeks ago on tour in Germany. I’m in the naughty seat on my own due to an illness and therefore we have an odd number of players, I’m also pretty much in the bass section so I thank them for making me welcome!
Before Kipland calls I must tell you this is the last tour for one of my gang, Phil Nolte, who has been a member of the 2nd violins for nine years – he couldn’t bring himself to make it a nice round decade obviously! He’s off to start a new life in the Emirates (not the Arsenal one). We shall miss him and wish him loads of luck in his new ventures!