We can totally recommend watching this on @BBCiPlayer. It features Queen Victoria's piano, which @houghhough plays… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
SO – two weeks, six countries, nine cities, fifteen train journeys, five flights, nine coach journeys, one car journey, seven hotels, twelve concerts, twenty four symphonies, thirteen overtures, six Christmas markets, far too many chocolates, undisclosed quantities of beer and wine…and we’re on our way home.
Yesterday in Paris, the day was grey and damp. A huge box of heavenly chocolates greeted us as we stumbled into the murky gloom backstage. This semi darkness is typical of many backstage areas in concert halls all over the world, and at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees there was much entertainment to be had falling over lengthy clumps of cables, negotiating one’s way around scaffolding towers dripping with theatre lights, avoiding unstable stacks of chairs plonked at random in the dark and searching for a surface or floor space on which to place an instrument case. Minutes before we were due to perform there was activity in every available space. Someone emerged from under a grand piano, a percussion player stripped to the waist having decided to adopt the area as his own personal dressing room, cellists hunted around for something to sit on, and a viola player practiced thought provoking scales perched under a jazz drum kit stored on a low platform. Double bass flight cases loomed out of the gloom like a row of dinosaurs, lids flapping, ready to devour any unsuspecting player on route to the stage. There was much tuning and warming up, and string players armed themselves with mutes and spare strings; and, in the ancient OAE tradition, there was the usual panic over lost purses and forgotten glasses.
Yes – to be frank, it can be achievement to get on stage intact, unscathed and ready to go…
This tour has been tremendous, and we’ve enjoyed wonderful, positive reaction from audiences in all the venues.
Footnote: if a mere violinist may be so bold, the standard of playing from our brass sections has been outstanding – including melodious tones wafting from the ophicleide. Some of my earliest childhood memories consist of trying to puff recognisable notes out of our ancient and somewhat battered family ophicleide (every home should have one); however, despite our best efforts, the only noise that ever came moaning out of it closely resembled that of a grief stricken cow. But the truth is, in the right hands the ophicleide adds a wonderful extra dimension to the brass tutti texture, and I like to think that had Berlioz heard his overtures (with ophicleide) and Schumann his symphonies (without) in these concerts, they would have been delighted by the beautiful, velvet blend that the OAE brass players have consistently produced.
Susie Carpenter-Jacobs, violin