So an Englishwoman, a Scotswoman, a Welshwoman and an Irishwoman...
This last week, the orchestra have been on tour in North Wales. Our role as Wales' national orchestra means that we are committed to bringing music to mid and north Wales, not just Cardiff and its surrounding areas.
With principal guest conductor, Jac van Steen, and soloist, Vilde Frang, we took two programmes on tour. Our programmes were two very different plays. The Tchaikovsky/Bruch/Dvořák programme, was quite heavy on the arms - a lot of red blooded, forte playing mixed with intense piano.
The Schumann/Tchaikovsky/Prokofiev/Haydn programme, on the other hand, required a much more stylised manner of playing. Both have their challenges, there's a bit of passage work in each that could trip you up if you weren't entirely on the ball!
As is now our tradition, my friends and I had booked a little cottage in Llandudno and so were driving rather than taking the orchestra coach. On Thursday morning, looking like the line up of a bad Englishwoman (Claire), Scotswoman (Amy), Welshwoman (Gwen), Irishwoman (Me) joke, we got the car packed and headed off.
All was going swimmingly until we were about 10 minutes from the venue and hit a terrible traffic jam. We started to panic that the best laid plans regarding being in time for a wee cuppa before rehearsal were descending into being catastrophically late for rehearsal.
After what felt like an age we were on our way again. The only other excitement was when the sat-nav took us a slightly funny route and we confronted the biggest incline to be seen outside of Alton Towers. Even Claire's tank of a car balked slightly at being forced up the hill as Amy, Gwen and I unhelpfully squealed in fear that we were going to roll backwards.
After a car or coach journey, I always feel the need to have an extra long warm up. I hate that feeling when your fingers feel swollen and unresponsive, and your body feels cramped from having sat in a confined space for a prolonged period of time. As we were playing Prokofiev's Classical Symphony in the first programme, it felt doubly important to me to be well warmed up.
Rehearsal started promptly and it was good to get a good play. I had been slightly concerned about this programme. The Prokofiev is brilliant, but a bit scary, and I had never played the Tchaikovsky concerto before - it has a few entries that could really catch you out. Thankfully, the Schumann was straight forward and I think I could almost play the Haydn in my sleep now!
There was an enthusiastic audience for the concert and I felt that things went well (especially the Schumann). I felt that I could now relax more in the Prokofiev too. Tired, we began our long drive to Llandudno to check into our lovely little home for the next few days!