The first day of the tour sees us departing from St Pancras Station. The tour party includes the Orchestra (60+ players), 4 members of OAE Management and 2 members of staff from Askonas Holt, our Agents, as well as Sir Simon himself of course.
Sometimes the OAE will manage a tour itself but for some, especially long complex ones like this, we have an agent to manage the tour for us – and that includes the initial planning of the tour – getting dates with concert halls and working out the itinerary as well as on the day arrangements.
The party sets off from St Pancras at 10am minus one violinist who is unwell – he’ll rejoin us later in the tour in Birmingham. Some thought is giving to finding a replacement but its decided that the section will be ok with being one player down.
We arrive in Brussels at 1.25pm, and after a short coach transfer arrive at our hotel. Emma, from our Agents, has travelled ahead of the main party so everything is very smooth – not only is vital information available for everyone (see picture) but all 60+ people get checked in in a matter of minutes.
After a quick bite with my colleagues Michael and Megan we meet up with Orchestra Manager Philippa and head over to the concert Hall, BOZAR (a clever way of abbreviating the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’. There we give Philippa a hand setting up the stage for the 5pm rehearsal. We’re pictured on stage here having a quick break after finishing the set up. In a rather nice touch, staff from the hall come round and put small boxes of Belgian chocolates on every music stand. Luckily there are also enough for the Management! I have a feeling these wont be the last chocolates I’ll eat during our Brussels stay…
The Orchestra assemble and when Sir Simon Rattle arrives at 5pm there are yet more chocolates – he hands around the big box he was given backstage at the Royal Festival Hall. I also learn that one of the Double Basses (the instrument, not the player) has sustained an injury during transit (the larger instruments were transported by van overnight). It’s apparently not too serious and will hopefully be fixed during the tour.
After a 90 minute rehearsal there’s a break before the concert at 8pm to a packed-out hall. It’s a beautiful art deco building, and very intimate given it seats over 2,000.
It’s another great performance – from where I am sitting the OAE sounds particularly good in this hall, and is greeted by warm applause, including the Belgian’s trademark rhythmic clapping.
After the concert I nip backstage – lots of Orchestra members greeting friends and the inevitable queue of people waiting to see Sir Simon. I scoot off with a Friend for a quick drink, but in doing so get separated from the Orchestra, so instead of hitting the town I’m writing up this blog instead…
If there’s anything of note you’ll hear from me again tomorrow, but if not look out for an update from the OAE’s next destination, Vienna, in the next few days.
William, Marketing Director.