Friday 12 August 2011

Tour of South America

I’m snatching some time prior to boarding my (14 hour) flight home to London from Buenos Aires. The orchestra meanwhile, after two concerts at the Theatro Colon and with concerts in Rio and San Paulo behind them, are now off to Montevideo and then a return to Sao Paulo for the final concert of this epic South American Tour.

Well so far it’s been a hugely successful tour. How does one qualify successful though? With this group it’s about more than the performances; more about the camaraderie and joie de vivre that also reflects positively on the concerts – a good example of how important touring is for achieving the highest artistic results. Certainly the strings have been on cracking form, led by the unique genius (a description I don’t use lightly) that is Pekka Kuusisto. His innate and edgy musicality inspires performances that are never the same and always electrifying. The rapport is there for all to see and was also evident with our tenor Allan Clayton, whose roles ranged from singing Purcell to Britten so movingly, as well as being our encore triangle player! Fresh in my memory this morning is an extra encore last night from Pekka for audience and orchestra: a Finnish tango (yes, really) with the violin plucked and strummed like a mandolin and the tune expertly whistled by our multi-talented soloist. The 2300 porteños who filled the Colon cheered their approval.

A few other random memories (from too many to mention)…

· A three hour tango lesson for the orchestra, and dancing into the early hours in on of BA’s finest tango halls where they took to the dance floor with many of the locals.

· An impromptu party in our San Paulo hotel after the first concert, where we were joined by
our great friend Angela Hewitt who coincidentally was playing in a concert in the same hall as us earlier on that day. (Angela wisely avoided Caipirnaha – Brazil’s national (and lethal) cocktail – being sampled by everyone, as she was due to play the Goldberg’s the next afternoon!)

· The BS running team following a route along Copacabana & Ipanema beach followed by
freshly coconut milk for all.

Ipanema Beach


· Too many delicious meals to mention, many a number courtesy of our generous sponsors Ashmore Brasil and Cambridge University Press.

· Entertainment (usually at airports and backstage) from two young recruits - Rachel Byrt’s and Suzanne Lose’s daughter and son respectively – Yoga, tango, monopoly all demonstrated admirably. On returning to school their answers to “what did you do the in holidays” should provide for colourful responses.

· An inspirational (and moving) workshop performance at the Institute Felix F. Bernasconi – courtesy of support from the British Council - with Pekka and 3 of our players and 20 or so young musicians from across Buenos Aires.

Young people in concert

· Some of the said young musicians reaction on seeing the Colon & mixing with the orchestra
backstage – awestruck!

Teatro Colon

I’m sure there will be more to report following the next three or so days in Montevideo and Sao Paulo before the journey home*… my flight’s been called so “ya me despido” for now.

Chief Executive, Britten Sinfonia

* I hear the orchestra’s Montevideo flight has been cancelled; the new plan is to go by ferry to Mondevideo (3 hours!) to arrive just in time for the show at 8pm! Let’s hope they make it!

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