Last night in Milan was a long concert, we finished at 11.50 pm and got back to the hotel at half past midnight. Because we were travelling on a train in the morning, there wasn’t room in the carriages for all of our luggage. This meant that we had to put our cases down in the lobby at some point before 5am when poor old Mark from the office, who is with us on this trip, had to supervise their departure in case a case made a break for freedom. He looks a little tired this morning. We left at about 10am to go to the fantastic Milan station, which is a cavernous space of white stone. This being Italy, you could actually get a decent coffee for 1 Euro, simply by asking for coffee and not the great long paragraph with which you have to order one in Britain. Suitably charged up I sat down in my allotted seat with my usual partners in crime and relaxed for three hours.
Actually thats not quite true. I hid.
To give you the background, whenever we have a break in a rehearsal in the Barbican, lots of people from administration and the Discovery department descend on players and get them to sign up for various workshops, coaching, hospital visits etc. We all have mobile phones of course, but being a musician, they are off most of the time. In fact some orchestras have a system of fines if you let your phone ring in rehearsal. We don’t have that, as Valery has three phones, he’d be bankrupt in a week. Anyway, as they have trouble getting in touch with us, they like to strike at the heart of the orchestra like birds picking off a shoal of fish. I shall have to choose my words carefully as I am told that people in the LSO office read this blog. They are all of course lovely people.
Now train journeys are a strange thing on an LSO trip. As soon as the doors shut on the train and we are sealed in for 3 hours, there is one member of the administration who picks off orchestral players more efficiently than a shark in a fish tank. Sue. As soon as the train slowly moves off she is up from her seat, ring file in one hand and her weapon of choice, a blackberry in the other, circling her first victim. Today I already know that I’m on her hit list, she said she wanted to speak to me for four and a half minutes. You see how deadly accurate she is?
She first had to speak to Mathew the vice chairman and I wandered off down the carriage in search of coffee hoping she might forget, as I really wanted to catch up on some sleep. When I returned, she was still speaking to him and writing notes, and the all of a sudden she leapt up again to move on down her list. I slumped in my seat but this time she walked on by. For about an hour, I read my book and chatted to friends, and then suddenly she appeared through the automatic doors. I thought quickly, put my Ipod on and pretended to be asleep. As she walked past, she tutted and carried on. I had escaped on this train. Shortly afterwards we arrived in Rimini station and I disappeared into the crowd, just like Brief Encounter, but without the romance.
I’m sure after reading this though, she’ll make sure she catches me at the airport in the morning. In fact I know she will as she is one of the main reasons tours like this run so smoothly.
So as I said, today we arrived in Rimini for the last concert of this Italian tour. Its a lovely seaside resort and my hotel looks out to sea-and its sunny! I head out for lunch before getting down to the beach for a quick swim to freshen up. It is so windy today that the sea is full of kite surfers, which actually makes it too dangerous to swim much. Its a bit like going for a jog on the M25 if you’ve seen how fast they go. Fairly soon after this, we go to the concert hall which is a huge venue which we have to work hard to fill with sound. Valery is wearing a baseball cap with “Conductor at rest” written on it ! The irony is that he never seems to rest, he works so hard.
As I write this, the rest of the orchestra is playing Prokofiev 4 which I’m not in, but I have to go on in a few minutes to play the 7th and also the 2nd violin concerto so I had better finish. I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings and maybe we will all see you at a concert soon.
And of course a big thank you to everyone who works behind the scenes to make logistical nightmares like tours happen. Yes, especially you Sue!