Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It shouldn't happen to an orchestra

Here's a little co-production with my R3 Mendelssohn blog (why do I somehow suspect that Suzanne won't be giving me a guest slot over at Handel?! though she points out, ironically enough, that the theatre now housing Phantom of the Opera is virtually on the site of Handel's King's Theatre. lol qed ;-))

Anyhow, it's been one of those weeks...and it's incredible what playing one solo line in an ensemble of eight people will do to a guy. The prospect of playing third violin in the Mendelssohn Octet tonight at the Wigmore Hall seems to be turning my normally delightful other 'arf into the male equivalent of Maria Callas.

Performing for the first time at the Wiggy would no doubt be scary enough in the first place, but things got a whole lot worse when the orchestra tried to get back from New York the other day. After their Sunday afternoon concert, they set off for JFK and two overnight flights home. Tom, by some amazing chance, had put down his name for the earlier plane. About three-quarters of the orchestra went on the later one.

Snow was beginning to fall as Tom and about 17 colleagues took the sky. But back on the ground, the planned second plane had proved only half full, so the airline in its infinite wisdom apparently elected to cancel it and move the passengers, including some 75 LPO musicians, onto a slightly later one. By the time said later plane was due to depart, the airport was snowed in and it was simply snow go.

The orchestra overnighted in the terminal, with a few pillows and, obviously, nowhere to practise. I’m told that few airline staff, if any, were in evidence and no info was forthcoming about their likely fate.

They finally landed at Heathrow at 12 noon on Tuesday instead of 11am on Monday, the Tuesday chamber rehearsal had to be cancelled and tempers are riding high. I keep telling Tom it will be all right on the night, that Mendelssohn’s wonderful energy will carry them along once they get going. But I suspect that the pub closest to the Wiggy will become very busy at about 9.45pm tonight once it is all over.

TOMORROW I am off to Krakow, so can't guarantee access to comment moderation from then until Sunday night.