Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Hayley’s tour diary, pt3

Mon Sep 26 2016

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A few pics from last night's welcome back to Queen Elizabeth Hall concert @southbankcentre, starring our Principal… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…


Ann & Peter Law OAE Experience Scheme bassoonist Hayley Pullen continues her blog of her experiences on tour at the Ryedale Festival, performing Handel’s opera Alcina in Perth and Musselburgh, Scotland.

It had been several weeks since our group of OAE experience players performed together at the Oriental Club in London and almost two months since our debut outing at the Ryedale Festival in Yorkshire (see Tour Diary parts 1 & 2). Looking forward to joining my fellow colleagues for our final performances of Handel’s Alcina, I was a bit anxious about the journey up to Scotland by plane. Travelling with instruments (a theme threaded throughout this entry) can be a precarious business and I was immediately caught off guard at the start of the journey…

Tuesday 13th September

6 AM   As I attempt to board the National Express coach at Golders Green station, the driver demands that I put my bassoon in the luggage hold. I explain that it’s a musical instrument, that it’s fragile, that I travel with it all the time (including these coaches!) but receive nothing but cold matter-of-factness: I will not be allowed on the bus with my bassoon. If I don’t get on this bus, I don’t get to the airport. If I don’t get to the airport, I miss my flight. So I reluctantly put my soft padded case in the hold with the heavy-looking suitcases. It was a nervous bus ride to the airport despite feeling fairly confident that my bassoon would resurface unharmed.


We got to the airport (bassoon unscathed!) and went through security – another nail-biting experience for travelling musicians. Jan Hutek, one our oboists, made the schoolboy error of leaving a reed knife in his carry on luggage. After he managed to convince the security agents that he wasn’t planning to give a close shave to anyone on the plane, they took it off him and let him through. (Airport security teams could make a fortune selling our own reed tools back to us!)

Before I put my bassoon on the conveyor belt for x-ray, it was whisked away and carried to one of the lovely little tables where someone unpacks everything in your luggage in front of curious onlookers. To be fair, the woman removing and swabbing (for what, I haven’t a clue?) every piece of my bassoon was very nice about the whole thing and reassured me she would be careful, though I’m sure my face didn’t mask the enormous cringe I felt when she started vigorously shaking my reed box…

‘So what is it?’ she and other curious travellers inevitably asked.

‘It’s a baroque bassoon.’ and that was thankfully the end of the questioning; I was very glad not to give an air-bassoon demonstration to the frequent follow-up question ‘So how do you play it?’

We all boarded the plane – on an airline notorious for its cabin baggage restrictions – with no issues (what miracle is this?!) as most of our instruments had extra seats booked.

instruments on planes

We arrived in Edinburgh to grey skies the distant sound of bagpipes – ah Scotland, we made it!

Our group met for dinner and some of us moved on a to a whisky bar with the most extensive menu I have ever seen, with well over 200 different kinds of single malts.


Hold tight for the 4th and final part, coming soon…

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