The sound of packed houses in London, Lucerne, and Paris clapping relentlessly in rhythm this past week will surely resound in our ears for a long time to come. What a joy it has been to present these 2 very different programs to our European audiences, and have them received with so much palpable excitement and appreciation!
Sometimes in one's travels on tour, however, it's also the everyday experiences that can be just as memorable. I'll share just a couple of my favorite off-stage moments from the European leg of this tour:
Despite various Facebook friends writing envious posts to the tune of: "OK, please, LA Phil folks, enough already with the Lucerne pics....", my husband Gavin & I took a series of cable cars including one that rotated(!) to the top of Mt. Titlus, which is roughly at 10,000 ft elevation. I knew we'd be capturing a few MORE Facebook-worthy pics that day, for sure. It was a stunningly beautiful experience, and during one leg of the ascent we shared a small gondola with 2 German skiers who had just come to ski Mt. Titlus for the day. An instructor was also with them, and there were lots of nervous jokes about tackling a few of those seemingly treacherous slopes. It reminded us of the banter that goes on in a skydiving airplane between novice and experienced jumpers. We talked (mostly in English) about skiing, skydiving, airplanes, and of course the LA Phil - they were very happy to meet us! A few hours later, we spotted them again while we were having lunch up on the mountain - they were rosy-cheeked and euphoric, and it was truly a delightful sight. They happily took pictures of us & we chatted some more; in the end we felt that we made two new friends in the Swiss Alps that day.
Two nights later, after our final concert in Lucerne, a group of us headed down to a local beer hall that we knew would serve late-night food. (Not always the easiest thing for musicians to find, even in some parts of Europe, especially on a weeknight.) Well, it turned out that probably half the orchestra had the same thought, so it was nearly impossible to find seating anywhere in the place. Our group split up out of necessity, and a few of us wound up sharing a table with 2 strangers, whom we assumed were locals. They seemed quite friendly as they gestured to us to please share their table. They then proceeded to watch us for a while with some amusement, but did not try & interfere in any way. We were obviously a slightly rowdy (and hungry) group of Americans. I think the real ice-breaker came when the waitress tried to take our partially-finished appetizer plate away and I was forced to confront her (as nicely as possible!) Our table-mates found this very funny, and started offering us their bread basket. I asked them if they spoke any English, and we officially started communicating in broken English, some almost non-existent German, and even a touch of Spanish. They were a delightful couple who had driven from Germany to come to the 10-day Lucerne Festival, and they had attended both of our LA Phil concerts. They were thrilled to meet us, and they pulled out their concert program and made us point to each of our names! In the end, they scribbled their contact information on a beer coaster for us, and two MORE new friends were made.
Another memorable meeting occurred in Paris - after our final concert at Salle Pleyel, a few of us players were asked to come down to the lobby and say hello to a group of patrons from KUSC who had attended our concert. Many of them were patrons of the LA Phil, as well, and had been traveling throughout other parts of Europe with KUSC's inimitable Gail Eichenthal. What an excited and happy bunch they were!! Questions were flying, and we were doing the best we could to get our answers out to them, shouting over all the post-concert bedlam. We wound up all gathering together for an impromptu group picture, and everybody left with a smile on their faces.