During our tour preview concerts, it was hard to think about the fact that we’d be playing these pieces overseas in a matter of weeks. With a busy home life (my wife and I have three boys under 3 years old) and many University of Houston auditions to attend, I was simply focused on doing my best when downtown at Jones Hall. Weeks with Andrés are always intense, so I strive to remain present and in the moment with him musically. I think the immediacy of the tour hit me once the other musicians and I picked up our beautiful Tour Books! Something about seeing the whole tour itinerary, Europe temperature information and my tour and trunk number really hit me—this is happening!
The week before the tour I was scouring “how to pack a suitcase” results on Google and trying to be efficient and organized for our two-week international adventure. I hadn’t been overseas since going to South America to assist Andrés in preparing the Colombian Youth Philharmonic in 2015, and I hadn’t been to Europe since my first year of marriage back in 2009!
A group had met months ago to plan our logistics to and from Europe, and I had decided to take a Dad-cation of sorts. As a result, I traveled without the other orchestra members, but I did happen to meet our Principal Bass, Robin, at the airport where we caught a quick bite to eat and yammered away about how excited we were.
Upon arriving in Brussels, I think we all experienced the simultaneous struggle to stay awake, take a dive into the local food scene and experience as much of the culture as we could while staying in touch with our families and getting back into international performing-shape on our instruments. As the first rehearsal and concert approached, I felt a collective sigh of comfort and familiarity from the orchestra as we revisited our tour repertoire with our beloved music director. The orchestra felt like a fine-tuned machine, able to both fully execute and also be spontaneous and free when performing.
The first concert of the tour was a terrific success. The crowds were full and enthusiastic. Knowing that our families and friends were back home listening to the live broadcast added a special extra “umph” for us as well. Essen was no different. With a performance hall boasting brilliant acoustics and an elegant look, our performance at Philharmonie Essen earned us an enthusiastic standing ovation. What a great way to start the tour. Next stop—Berlin!