The first of our player reports from the US comes from Co-principal Viola Helen Kamminga who wrote about the orchestra’s first few days in Florida:
Happy New Year to all blog readers from West Palm Beach where the Orchestra is staying while we give concerts around Florida before moving on to the rest of the country! I’m Helen Kamminga, the RPO’s co-principal viola. It’s been a few months since my last post about the infamous Verona trip – hopefully things here will go a little more smoothly!
The first few days of our epic four week tour are worryingly easy and civilised. By that I mean lots of free time and no real touring yet – we get to stay in one nice hotel for several days, and travel to different venues each day. Last night (3rd January) it was Fort Lauderdale, an hour away. Tonight and tomorrow we play in the Kravis Center which is only a stone’s throw from the hotel. Then a day off – and the sun is shining! Rumour has it that some people are planning a sky dive. No doubt there will be news of that in next week’s blog post – meanwhile my feet are staying securely on terra firma!
The idea of 21 concerts ahead is a daunting one. It feels like a bit of a mountain to climb actually. An average month back home might consist of two or three concerts per week, mixed up with sessions and rehearsals, but more to the point, we get to go home each night. A month like this definitely has its challenges. Luckily we are all seasoned travellers and get on pretty well (should I be saying that on Day 3 I wonder…..!) and musicians are well known for managing to have fun wherever they are.
It’s great to be performing with Pinchas Zukerman again. He is conducting Brahms 4 and Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations, and directing the Bruch and Beethoven concertos from the violin. He has an easy going attitude which everyone enjoys, and when he plays the violin – well, it’s a privilege to be on stage with him.
West Palm Beach is an easy place to be, great climate, good restaurants and shops, everything close by. Any thoughts of the customary January post festive detox were quickly dispelled on our first visit to the local steakhouse, with its colossal portions – even a side of spinach is swimming in cream, and frankly it would be rude not to sample most of the wines on offer. This kind of indulgence will need to stop next week, not least because there won’t be time!
It’s now our final morning in West Palm Beach. Later we head to Naples and the touring really starts. Look out for more blogs as we make our way round America plus a flying visit over the border to Ottawa. Meanwhile there’s just time for a last brunch in the sunshine!