Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anticipating the Road Again

It’s nothing new for me; I’ve been doing it for years but in this case it’s been two years since the last real tour, perhaps that’s the reason for the excitement. For me a tour has always been viewed as a vacation, a change from the norm, and it’s been that way ever since the early 60s when I went on tour with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. And again I’m struck by the advantages of being an orchestral tubist.

In 1962, during my first weeks with the Concertgebouw Orchestra they took a tour to the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland with George Szell conducting. In that first week were several performances of Mahler’s 1st Symphony, which just in itself was hugely exciting, being new in that orchestra, having George Szell conducting and taking part in the Edinburgh Festival. And the tubist’s advantage: The second week of the tour was all Beethoven; the tuba didn’t exist during the time of Beethoven, I had a free week in Scotland. I took a train and headed north toward the Hebrides and spent several incredible days on the Isle of Skye.

In 1967 The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra went on a 10-week round-the-world tour, which included playing in Tehran, Iran for the Coronation of the Shaw, certainly, that was a long long time ago! We also went to exotic venues such as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Romania, East Germany, Bulgaria and to our conductor, Zubin Mehta’s home, India. My life changed on that trip; from then on I could never get enough travel.

Until the last five years, my life was spent waiting for the next trip and I never had to wait long. I was spending half my time on planes and trains en route to my various teaching positions in Italy, Holland, Switzerland and England, my summer gigs in Greece, Spain and Canada and the frequent concerts and masterclasses, which included about everywhere including Japan.

Five years ago I took a full time teaching position at the Musashino Academia Musicae in Tokyo, Japan and for the first time in my adult life I was content to stay where I was, I had had enough of chronically being on the road, Japan, Tokyo and Musashino fulfilled my needs for the exotic.

Now for the first time in two years I’m facing another one of those 12-hour flights and 5 weeks of smaller flights and train trips. The first few days I will be in London visiting my daughter, Melody, whom I haven’t seen in two years. The next two weeks I will be working, well, working and vacationing in Finland. My work will be conducting a concert with the brass section of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and two days of classes at the Tampere Conservatory.

But there is much more; the first week in Finland I will go Lapland above the arctic circle with my good friend and tuba colleague Harri Lidsle and take a dog sled trip, eat reindeer and salmon, and hopefully enjoy the aurora borealis. What else do you do with a free week in Finland? (Pictures will arrive later)

Then on to classes in Zurich, Italy (Fiesole Scuola di Musica, where I got I start after leaving the Los Angeles Philharmonic) and back to London with a class at the Royal Collage of Music.

I think, I hope, this short trip will be enough to satisfy my wanderlust tendencies for the next couple of years and Tokyo will feed my need for the Exotic. And still, I’m experiencing that pre tour excitement that doesn’t seem to wane with age and experience.

More to follow.

Tokyo, February 18, 2011