Monday 18 August 2014

Tour of India - Part Two

The second installment of our India tour blog by orchestra manager, Annabel:

We had a slow start to our general rehearsal on the afternoon of our first performance, with sound and lighting crew working around us, many people passing through the performance space, and the ever-efficient housekeepers still trying to vacuum the stage!  We experiment with three different stage layouts before settling on one that suits everyone best, ensuring sight-lines between all are good.  No sooner had we settled on this and the rehearsal begun properly, the waiting staff brought in cups of tea and biscuits – it was the earliest rehearsal break I’ve known.  Amjad Ali Khan and his sons joined us a little later for a full soundcheck – we are performing with amplification, in order to balance the three sarods and tabla against the Britten Sinfonia line-up satisfactorily.

The evenings performance went smoothly, with Jacqueline Shave and Adam Mackenzie (bassoon) introducing the Western pieces from stage. Our audience were enthusiastic, and were keen to chat to all involved in the performance at a reception following the show.  It was, as always, a relief to have finished the first performance in the run.

A free day followed, and a chance to explore Delhi.  Journeys were made to various temples, Karims (of Rough Guide to India fame) for lunch, and even a flute shop.  It was, however, Indian Independence Day, so many shops and roads were closed.  At the hotel, flowers in the foyer had been arranged in the shape and colours of the Indian flag, and uniformed men manned an Indian flag positioned on the lawn.

Jacqueline Shave and Kathy Shave
The following day we were to travel to Coimbatore during the early afternoon.  Seizing a short window of opportunity in the schedule, the majority of the group set off in the early hours for the 3 hour drive to Agra, to visit the Taj Mahal. A slightly lengthier journey than anticipated meant that it really was a whistle-stop tour before the journey back to Delhi for our plane to the most southerly part of India we shall be visiting.  Despite the early start and much travel, a spontaneous rehearsal was held in the evening as it felt like much had happened since everyone played.

A further free day followed, and another early start for the enthusiastically-exploring players – this time to visit nearby mountains and scenic railway, with a chance to explore a local town and various temples. An early night was then called for, ahead of our second performance today and beginning of intense travel tomorrow.  It has been an unusually-luxurious start to the tour, but from now on we travel and perform almost every day; our next stops on consecutive days are Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Orchestra Manager

For full details of Britten Sinfonia's tour to India click here

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