On Friday, we were off to the Pritchard-Jones Hall, Bangor for the turn of our Tchaikovsky/Bruch/Dvořák programme.
Rehearsal was a bit stop/start, as these things sometimes have a tendency to be. For starters, there was a small issue with the heating, meaning that the hall was sweltering. I believe in looking on the bright side of life however, and perhaps it was good training for the climate on the prchestra's forthcoming China tour! Additionally, the hall had the most reverberant acoustic of the tour and it was necessary to spend quite some time rebalancing the sound of the orchestra.
There is always such a good and responsive audience in Bangor. Sometimes, even if you're not happy about the angle at which you are facing your stand, or the height of your chair, or the amount of space you have to bow in, a good audience can help you forget these little niggles.
I'm not entirely sure what I think of Tchaikovsky's Hamlet overture. It has some horribly tricky passage work which always occurs when the brass are all blaring forth (perhaps that is a mercy!), so it sometimes feels like you are working incredibly hard but with not a terrible amount of return. I do like the end of it though - it's quite reminiscent of the end of the Pathetique Symphony.
Vilde's Bruch concerto was beautiful; it is lovely to hear a young soloist who isn't just a technical wizzkid, but plays with such soul. I genuinely would love someone to get in touch and let me know what her encore was! The Dvořák was a suitably rip-roaring affair and post-concert Tweets would suggest the audience really did love it!
Next day in Wrexham's William Aston Hall, rehearsal was relatively short as we were repeating the previous night's programme and so, it was only necessary to fit the music to the much drier acoustic. There was a little bit of a lighting issue that halted proceedings briefly - a third of the orchestra were being blinded by some overhead lights, the horns were in relative darkness and a few members were being toasted by lights quite close to their heads. This was all dealt with quickly by stage manager, Andy, with his usual humour and efficiency.
Rehearsal done, we headed back to the car park to enjoy that most glamourous of domestic tour activities - a packed dinner in the car. Claire had secured a parking space right by the exit, so we were confident of a swift get away post concert ( so would be in time to pick up a Chinese take away en route). Who said this life was all pretty dresses and post concert receptions!
The concert ran smoothly. I still find Hamlet a little bit uncomfortable; it's not that it is difficult, it's just a little awkward in places. Vilde's Bruch was warmly received by the audience and with that it was time for a quick breath of fresh air and on to the Dvořák!