2016 European Tour, Los Angeles Philharmonic
We are finally home, and it is now 5AM (thank you, Jet Lag), after tagging along (as subaltern music librarian) on a concert tour of Europe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
It was a special position to be in, listening to my colleagues play outstanding concerts in special halls and not having to do any trumpet practice myself (I often did I wonder what that would be like).
It began with a three-day stay in New York, where they played at the newly re-named David Geffen Hall (former Avery Fischer), which is due to be gutted and rebuilt beginning two years from now.
After the two orchestra concerts, the bulk of the band took off for Amsterdam but the brass section remained behind to perform Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They had a rehearsal in the early afternoon which had them playing it through about six times in a row – largely for the television crew to work out camera angles. Then they had a three-hour dinner break and the show began taping about 5 PM. You can watch the finished product here, done in one “take”. I got to sit in the audience, in the balcony of the 500-seat theater and directly in front of the ensemble – what a thrilling experience that was!
As soon as that performance was finished, it was off to the airport for a 10:30pm flight to Amsterdam, arriving about 10:30am local time.
The concert of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony was performed at the famous Concertgebouw Concert Hall. Other features of the three-day stay in Amsterdam were visits to various incredible museums and Kazue and I took a tour of the windmill country and small towns. In Amsterdam, it should be noted, there are 800,000 residents and at least 600,000 bikes. There are bike paths everywhere and don’t be caught walking in them – that bike warning bell may be the last thing you’ll ever hear!
The Netherlands is a country that knows water quite intimately. On our first day there it was nice and sunny but we soon discovered that was a rare occurrence. On the windmills tour our guide made a special note of telling us that even though it was a gray and overcast day, it was beautiful – because it wasn’t raining! Coming from drought-stricken California, this was a mind-bender.
After Amsterdam it was off to Paris. One of the high points for me was that friends from Germany joined us. Of course, one wants to dine well in Paris and we were joined by Jean-Marie Cottet and his wife, Judy Chin, at the "boeuf sur le toit", formerly a famous jazz place in Milhaud and Cocteau’s time.
Here is a picture – Jean-Marie Cottet across the table from me and Judy to my right. Others include Judith Zaiser and Ralf and Edith Rudolph. The food, the wine and the company were just superb! (You will recall that Jean-Marie is the composer of all the piano accompaniments to the Charlier etudes).
The next day, after a magnificent and heart-stopping performance of Mahler’s 3rd in the new Paris Philharmonie, we repaired to a small restaurant with Uwe Zaiser joining us in the meantime. Finding the restaurant was quite an accomplishment because most of the places were closed – it being a Sunday evening (it’s not like New York in this regard).
From Paris the tour continued to Luxembourg – a two-hour fast train ride away. This was a quick turn-around as the following day we flew to London for three concerts at the Barbican Centre.
The concerts went very well and we managed to get in a few museums and sights – I might add, this is much easier as a non-trumpet player since practice time on tour is often hard to find but every bit as necessary as normal – in fact, more so. I missed many things on previous tours when I was a playing member of the orchestra because I couldn’t go there as a tourist and do my job well at the same time. So I was happy to have this non-playing experience although it means being with the music from the outside rather than the inside.
Check out this menu from The Jugged Hare, where we had a meal. Some really unique dishes here and a very British atmosphere! On our last morning we had a chance to see a little bit of the British Museum before beginning the long journey back to Los Angeles.
The orchestra musicians played a very fine tour, got lots of rave reviews from the newspapers and they have my extreme admiration. I count myself as a supporter and proud former member of the trumpet section.
To those whose music orders have come in during my absence, thank you for your patience – I will be mailing music out tomorrow.