One of the downsides to touring is the lack of time the musicians have to adjust to different time zones. Anyone who has traveled abroad is familiar with the intense fatigue that is a fact of life during one’s first few days in another part of the world. It was this sleepiness that lead some of our musicians to find that there is, indeed, Starbucks in Moscow!
Below, Mark Hughes, Principal Trumpet, describes what it is like to perform while completely disoriented by the variance in time zones, but how good music and a good meal can make it all worth while.
Red Eyes in Red Square
By: Mark Hughes
For my second blog entry, I’d like to let everyone know that being on tour is not all “fun and games.” Many of my orchestra colleagues and I continue to struggle with adapting to the vast time difference here. There are times that you need to sleep and can’t, and other times when you are falling over into your soup! This, of course, is common with anyone traveling great distances. However, it does seem very strange to be performing when your internal clock thinks it’s early morning, and that you’re playing after staying up all night!
Speaking of performing, that is what we are here to do and we started things off last night playing for a packed crowd in the lovely Column Hall located in the House of Unions. Last night’s program included Mozart’s Prague Symphony (No.38) and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9. The concert was well received, and after countless curtain calls, the strings of the orchestra performed the lovely Cassation No. 1, movement 3 by Mozart. It was the perfect nightcap following the huge meal of Bruckner. After several more curtain calls, Hans led our Concertmaster, Frank Huang, off the stage, signaling to the audience that the music was over for this evening.
In between yesterday’s morning rehearsal and the evening performance, we had a few hours free. Many of the musicians used this time to visit Red Square, which is what many Americans think of when we think of Moscow. Red Square is where the Kremlin is located. There are many other amazing things to see there as well, including Lenin’s tomb, the Jum (a large mall), a Museum of History, and my favorite, St. Basil’s Cathedral. While touring the inside of this magnificent piece of architecture, I was fortunate to hear a quartet of men singing in an attempt to sell their CD’s of a Capella sacred works. Below is a brief video of this impromptu performance. If you listen carefully at the end of the video, you will hear the bass holding out a pedal C for several seconds. (For many years, Russian choruses have been known for their basses!)
Earlier, I mentioned falling asleep in my soup, but actually I was falling asleep in my Borsch! A couple of evenings ago, I was able to go to the famous “Cafe Pushkin” with several of my fellow orchestra foodies. Bill VerMeulen, Chris Schubert and Sasha Potiomkin (all great cooks themselves) had planned an evening there that I was allowed to join. The evening included a tour, as well as the many courses of French influenced Russian peasant fare. Sasha was our interpreter and adviser, which made the evening a lifelong memory! Below is a photo of my main course for your mouth watering pleasure :).
Till next time, Bon Appetit!