Thursday, December 4, 2008

pass the violin, please

Today the orchestra is in Gothenburg, Sweden and tonight they perform at the Gothenburg Konserthuset.

Below is a message from Dale Barltrop, the SPCO's principal second violin. Becuase of a technology glitch, his message comes to us a bit after the fact.

Greetings from Oslo! After three days in Copenhagen, most of us have managed to adjust our body clocks and get enough sleep to prepare for the next 4 days and 4 concerts. Our first concert was last night in the concert hall of the Copenhagen Music Conservatory, a very intimate space, despite its large size and vast balconies. We played to a sold out audience and the concert was broadcast live on Danish National Radio. Our Danish-born soloist and conductor, Nikolaj Znaider, who enjoys "star status" in Denmark, drew a rousing response from the audience after his Mozart concerto. However, it was the Beethoven 7 that really brought the house down. We received a standing ovation and the typically European "rhythmic clapping" that we have come to enjoy over on this side of the Atlantic.

It was an exhilarating concert – the first of any big tour is always a mix of excitement and nerves, the latter possibly increased by the live broadcast! It was a great feeling to start out with a bang and I think it certainly set the tone for the remaining 4 concerts this week.

It wasn't without its drama however... Our fearless concertmaster, Steve, somehow managed to break his E string in the slow movement of the Beethoven (a feat usually reserved for fast and furious movements!). During the pause between the 2nd and 3rd movements there was an awkward pause as it soon became clear that no one had a spare string on stage with them. As Steve's fiddle got passed back down the line, Elsa gallantly offered her violin to Steve, and Shane, one of our violin subs, in turn gave his fiddle to Elsa, taking Steve's instrument off stage while the concert went on. Unfortunately, Shane never made it back onstage as there was no appropriate time to make a re-entrance. AND even more unfortunately, I realized after the concert that I had a spare set of strings in my pocket the whole time!! Oops.

Anyway, the audience couldn't seem to get enough, even after we played our encore. Upon finally leaving the stage, we came back to the green room where they had an abundant supply of beer awaiting us! In my excitement to drink it, I promptly spilled some all down my concert pants. If the men's wardrobe trunk reeks of beer tonight, I won't be popular.Arriving in Oslo this afternoon was almost like coming home already! Fresh snow on the ground and a crisp bite in the air.

However, it didn't feel so much like home when it got dark around 3:30pm. It's now 4:30pm and it is thoroughly night time already. In fact, we haven't seen any sunlight at all since arriving in Scandinavia, but it has not dampened our spirits one bit, perhaps because we were treated to such lavish breakfasts in Copenhagen, which definitely helped ease the pain of those first sleepless nights.

Well, I'm off to explore Oslo with a Norwegian friend. Adjo!

Dale Barltrop

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