Stacy and I had the honor of sharing dinner with Philharmonic Board members Ann and Tony Cannon and Philharmonic Director of Public Relations Adam Crane. It was after our concert in Paris at Salle Pleyel (November 6), which made it a late-night meal but?is it possible to find a bad dinner in Paris? Mais oui, but there are so many wonderful choices that make this a difficult venture.
Upon arrival at our hotel after an overnight flight from LAX, everyone's concern is the same: clean up, eat, and stay up as late as possible. The first night of sleep is never a problem. It is the first full day and second night that will dictate how quickly we can adapt to the new time zone. So, on the first morning in London, the first order of business is finding coffee. Starbuck's has invaded every street corner here. But preferring to sample local fare, a couple of colleagues and I opt for Valentino's, a small café which promises a full English breakfast for 3.90 pounds ($8.00). The coffee is excellent and we end up lingering for over an hour deep in conversation.
While on tour, the orchestra tends to split itself socially along instrument lines. There are the bass boys, the brass guys, and the freshman class, to name a few. While some cross pollination takes place, we tend to find our "people" and stick with them.
Fresh off the bus from Heathrow, and after a quick splash of water on our faces at the hotel (our suitcases hadn't been delivered yet!), a small group of us met back in the lobby to start our adventure. The brave ones: violinists Martin Chalifour, Mitch Newman, Ingrid Chun, and Lawrence Gamma, cellist Danny Rothmuller, and myself. Never mind that we were all starving; the first objective was to get ourselves to North London as quickly and economically as possible. (This is London, after all, where a single ride on the Tube is four POUNDS!) Once we were in the vicinity of the jazz club, then we could quickly grab something to eat, we hoped.
Fast forward to a group of jet-lagged musicians in the Tube station, trying to figure out the best way to do this — eventually, we all bought our "Oyster" cards — a nifty card you can top off at any time, which gets you multiple Tube and bus rides for a fraction of the "single ride" costs.
On Monday at 7pm sharp we left Disney Hall for LAX by bus. After what seemed like a very long 9 ? hours, we arrived at London Heathrow to a beautiful, sunny afternoon. We arrived at our hotel very tired and hungry. London has a plethora of wonderful restaurants so the choices for dinner were nearly overwhelming. My wife and I chose a fish and chips place, The Fryer's Delight. Others chose more exotic fare for dinner. But the most interesting entertainment choice of the evening was made by a group of musicians, lead by our keyboardist, Joanne Pearce Martin, who attended a musical event not to be found anywhere else on the planet.
It takes efforts on many fronts to project our musical pursuits to a European audience. As musicians, we work very hard to bring our "product" up to the highest standards but without our Production Director, Paul Geller, and his crew of Stage Technicians, Cesar Melgar, Alex Quintanar, and Michael Sheppard, our musical pursuits would quite literally never fly. These are the people who do the thankless, behind the scenes work that we all appreciate so much. They make us musicians feel almost as if we were at home no matter where we are, so that we can perform at our best. It is staggering to me what they move:
Today 106 members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic are traveling as a group to London to begin the 2007 European Tour. On a personal level, there are many things to prepare, above and beyond the rudimentary packing that we all must do. These preparations are as varied and different as the individual circumstances of each member of the orchestra. Some must shop, some must make arrangements for the care of a home or pets, others must make arrangements for the care of young children?a truly daunting task. I speak from my own experience of having had to make arrangements for our two teenagers and one pre-teen while we are away. But I must confess that it is my wife Stacy (a member of the Philharmonic's first violin section) who does the lion's share of the arranging - I am just the errand boy. These necessary arrangements are made by all those who have responsibilities at home in addition to our Philharmonic lives, but I thought it might be interesting, if not exhausting, reading to hear from Los Angeles Philharmonic woodwind player Cathy Ransom Karoly (flute), who is married to Jonathan Karoly (cello), also a member of the Phil.