Sorry to have cut short the end of my St Paul story. I’ve now been back a week and a half and it’s taken me this long to get over the jet lag. (Sorry I promised my colleagues at the end of last week that I would moan about jet lag no longer, but here I go again…)

The last few days of our visit in St Paul were the most exciting as after all the preparation the performances of Goebbels’ Songs of Wars I have seen were finally to take place.

For both the Friday and Saturday night concerts in the Ordway Center, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra led from the piano by Pierre-Laurent Aimard performed Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto. With insider knowledge on what was to come in the 2nd half of the concert I was intrigued to how the audience would react as the 2 pieces couldn’t have been more different. The Beethoven was beautifully played and an interesting contrast to the period sound-world of the OAE, who were the last live orchestra I had heard perform this piece a few years back. After the interval came the Goebbels. 2 weeks on, and reflecting back I think I enjoyed the performance more on the 2nd evening as even though I had heard the performance at the premier in 2008 it’s one of those pieces you enjoy more the more you understand I think (particularly when you are me and find contemporary music a little scary!). Looking forward to hearing it again at the QEH in April to see if I ‘get it’ even more by then. It really was very atmospheric! A mixed response from the audience, a standing ovation from some, and just a couple of walk outs!

So then came Sunday, which meant hometime! We left behind a very snowy (but somewhat warmer) Minnesota and headed for the airport. I gather I missed my OAE colleagues arriving at the airport for the next set of concerts with Rachel Podger by a mere 5 minutes. Would have been funny to wave across at them from the airport terminal! I must say I was glad I didn’t have a window seat on the plane, I might have been a little wary of all the snow flurries. The plane was so empty that we were forbidden to move seats in case if affected the balance in the air. Hmmm… not something you want to hear after watching all the plane crash news from New York earlier in the week. Still at least it meant there was plenty of room and I luxuriously stretched out over 4 seats, so got about 4 hours of sleep. Which I can tell you I needed as I went straight to the office for a day at work after arriving at Heathrow at 7am. Well it was sort of a full day. I spent most of it wandering around feeling a little bit woozy, but managed to stay awake until 4 when I got sent home and immediately crashed into bed and didn’t surface till 8am the next day. I was so unconscious that it took me till lunchtime to wake up properly again and lets just say was a little tetchy. (Ed’s note – don’t we know it!)

All in all a great week in the USA, and an introduction to all things American. I will always remember how nice and friendly all the people were, and I cannot possibly forget that experience of the cold! It was also a great opportunity to see other orchestras at work and I enjoyed getting to know the St Paul Chamber Orchestra and London Sinfonietta staff better too!

Ceri Jones, Projects Manager

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