The Orchestra has just returned from a tour to the Canary Islands with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Charles Dutoit. Double Bass player Benjamin Cunningham reports back here.
So, less than a week has passed since we got home from our tour of the Canary Islands and in some ways it feels like such a long time ago: As soon as we got home, we dived straight back into work, preparing for the opera at the Royal Albert Hall and motoring off to give performances to some great audiences in Crawley and High Wycombe.
But, my, what a great trip. The islands themselves were so very beautiful and it was such a tonic to spend 5 days in the sunshine, away from the rainy grey London of early February. We began the trip in Las Palmas, on the island of Gran Canaria and arrived to hotel rooms which looked out over a fabulous stretch of beach and the beautiful setting sun over the ocean. Cue an evening to relax and recuperate from the travelling… Some beautiful paella and maybe a glass or two of sangria to help it down.
The next day, we began work. It’s always such a pleasure to be playing under our Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Charles Dutoit, and this trip was no exception. The concert hall in Las Palmas is a beautiful building, possessing such a lovely acoustic, and the audience seemed to really enjoy our two programmes, which included Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Stravinsky’s The Firebird and a very interesting new piece by a contemporary Spanish composer called Diaz-Jerez. Both shows, as always with Dutoit, were so enjoyable and we repeated both programmes two days later in Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife, in a remarkable concert hall that resembed a vast sea creature, basking in the sun at the edge of the ocean.
It’s possibly a little-known fact about musicians, but there seems to be rather a sizeable number of us who like to don neoprene when given the chance and head into the depths of the ocean to go scuba diving. As the concerts are usually not until late in the evening in Spain, the rehearsals were quite late in the day, which gave several of the action men in the orchestra a chance to head out to a dive centre about 40 minutes drive from Las Palmas.
The group was of mixed ability, with some (fully qualified) members heading off under their own steam to explore the waters and others taking their first tentative steps into the blue. Great hilarity was had as we all poured ourselves into our rather unattractive wetsuits!
But, what an experience: Angel sharks, cuttle fish, parrot fish of the most vivid colours and an endless ocean flecked with shafts of the beautiful Canarian sun. A remarkable way to spend a day, and only to go on to play such wonderful music in the evening. We may not have looked so hot in the neoprene, but what a lucky bunch of boys we were.