I resisted my natural proclivity for thriftiness and decided to spend a little more money to travel “in front” of the rest
of the group to Washington, DC. Most of the orchestra stayed in Nashville and are arriving in DC this morning for rehearsal at The Kennedy Center. The good news is we have the next day off, which is actually more like excellent news.
There are so many things to do in this city. Yesterday, a group of us checked out the Spy Museum, which was very cool. My kids are sneaky teenagers, but they’ve got nothing on the characters celebrated by this unique museum. From there, we walked over to the White House, the Washington Monument and its reflecting pool, which is actually more like a reflecting mud pit - it was recently drained to combat an outbreak of bird botulism among the local ducks. We also visited the Lincoln Monument, and the new WWII Memorial - beautiful, but 60 years late, in my humble opinion. My dad fought in the Pacific as a marine, and it was good to see a fitting tribute to the tremendous sacrifice that that generation made.
Today we had a completely free day- no need to check out of the hotel, no bus to catch, no airport cuisine, no plane travel, and finally, no concert! It was good to catch a breather before going to all the wonderful cities in the second half of our tour. It has been a busy tour but a very successful one so far. The audiences were simply enthralled with Gustavo and responded to the way we played our hearts out every concert. The excitement of performing for music lovers everywhere and the connection we build with them are what make what we do so fulfilling. Another part of the tour that I enjoy the most is getting to spend more time with my colleagues. We bonded over meals, shared our adventures and laughed about our misadventures over a drink or two, or three. Tonight we went to the Germantown Cafe, a popular restaurant in a charming neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown. The waiter told us that it was the first time since the flood that they started serving with wine glasses rather than paper cups in order to conserve water.
As we approach the halfway point of our US Tour, I'm using a rainy day in Nashville to just relax and reflect on the whirlwind of travel, rehearsals and concerts we jam packed into seven long days. Gustavo, Jean-Yves and the Orchestra have been marvelous, as the concerts have all been fantastic and exciting. Sitting backstage listening to the thunderous ovations in every city makes me gleam with pride for the LA Phil.
On this free day, I'd like to focus on the other side of the stage and the magic that is being produced there. Whenever we arrive into the next venue, everything is setup as it should be. While we don't expect anything less, it's hard to appreciate how everything got there. Our production director, Paul Geller, stage manager, Jeff Wallace and their stage crew, Alex Quintanar, Cesar Melgar and John Cox have made these concerts possible and deserve credit for the success we have been having on this tour. These guys arrive to the halls before our planes even touchdown at the airport and stay after many of us have gone to bed. They load into halls that cannot fit our trunks and find creative solutions so that everything is ready to go.
So often in the face of adversity we manage to come together and help those in need to cope with tremendous loss. Today the Philharmonic arrived in Nashville to perform this evening in an alternate venue: the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Due to its location on higher ground, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center did not suffer flood damage as did the much newer Schermerhorn Concert Hall, home to the Nashville Symphony. The concert was highly emotional for two important reasons: we were able to play a magnificent concert to assist in the healing of this flood stricken city, and to present a contribution (nearly $7,000 from the musicians of the Philharmonic) for a total of $25,000 to help the Nashville Symphony replace one of the two Steinway concert grands that were lost in the flooding.
Not even a flood can stop Gustavo and the LA Phil! The new Schermerhorn Hall in Nashville sustained serious damage in last week's weather catastrophe and cannot be used again until major repairs are completed. For a few days it seemed our concert would have to be cancelled. However, we hung in there with the great folks from the Nashville Symphony because we all believe passionately in the power of music when times are tough. Amazingly, the persistent music-lovers in Nashville came up with an alternate (though not ideal) hall and asked if we would be willing to play in it. Not only were we willing, but our musicians took up a collection among themselves that added up to close to $7000; Gustavo and Jean Yves Thibaudet matched that, and our Association will give back a portion of our fee.
Chicago is my home town, and yesterday was one of the three or four days a year with crystal-clear breezy skies and ideal temperature. I treated myself to several hours visiting "old friends" in the Art Institute's impressive Impressionist collection - unrivaled anywhere (well, maybe Paris). I couldn't stay indoors too long. It was just too beautiful outside. I met up with Mitch Newman for a trip to the Hancock Building's 94th floor Observatory. The visibility was 70-80 miles! Before the acoustic rehearsal, I'd had dinner with my dad, who has been the Chicago Symphony's Principal Bassist for 49
years. I come by my profession honestly.
Playing on the stage at Orchestra Hall is a very nostalgic experience for me. In high school, I was the Concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra of Chicago, and all of our performances and many rehearsals were on that stage. I fondly remember Civic rehearsals conducted by some of the Symphony's principal conductors- including Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini (who ultimately hired me to play in the LA Phil in 1981).
It's so great to be home in Chicago! Last night I had dinner with my mother, brother, and sister at my sister's condo off Lake Shore Drive. Her building overlooks Wrigley Field, and as I write this today, I'm glancing over at the Cubs vs Pirates game which is now tied at 6 -- biting my nails!
Earlier today, I ran into Shelley Bovyer and Patty Kindel at the Art Institute, as well as Meredith Snow and Ingrid Hutman in the Impressionist galleries.
My sister and I stopped at Millennium Park, and the Pritzker Pavillion which is the home of the Grant Park Orchestra in the summertime, and where my husband Fritz has played tuba for over 25 years. Also a trip to Cloudgate sculpture, which we call the 'bean'.
Tonight we play at Symphony center, and my friends and family will all be there...can't wait!