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Netty's tour diary. Part 1 (CPE Bach, Birthdays and Viagra)

Mon Mar 21 2011

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Viola player Annette (known to many in the OAE as ‘Netty’) Isserlis made a diary of our recent tour to the US. Here’s days 1-3 with the rest following tomrorow. We hope to post some pics up soon too… A few additions from the blog editor in the brackets!

Mon Mar 14

Scene: Carluccio’s, outside Terminal 5, LHR.

Breakfast with husband Ken between red-eye flight in from Schipol (following 2 OAE concerts in Groningen and Nijmingen with Rachel Podger), and impending flight to USA: Ken to LA for solo concerts and Me to Boston with OAE and Sir Roger (Norrington), continuing the CPE Bachfest.
Dreadful news continuing to come through about the Japanese Disaster(s). Ken’s family all ok.

Painless flight to Boston followed by similarly painless Immigration, amazingly! It transpired that he chatty officer knew Yo-yo Ma personally….

Convivial dinner and bed not too early: it’s the only way to sleep through the 1st night, in my experience.

Tues Mar 15

A happy reunion with Sir Rog: a vision in pale pink, including his braces! He explained the apparent gloominess of the Harvard Sanders Theater (modelled on Oxford’s Sheldonian) as being fitting for a Memorial Hall. “Commencement”  over here apparently kicks in when you die, according to Sir. There was indeed a lot of dark wood around, but at least the acoustic was helpful!
Kati (Debretzeni, OAE Leader) announced that she would be hosting a post-Birthday drink for us after the concert, which brought forth approving noises.

Delicious lunch at “Legal Seafood Restaurant” with a mutual friend of Ally, Hetty and myself (all OAE players), and then back to Boston, and a post-prandial waddle around the hotel neighbourhood, which bordered Chinatown. The higher-minded members of OAE visited museums and art-galleries.

Concert a lively affair, helped by Bob Levin in the audience, grinning like a Cheshire Cat from the middle of the 2nd row throughout, unobserved (fortunately) by Steve Devine, who performed wonderfully in the harpsichord concerto. Bob bounced backstage in the interval, telling us he’d just recently had a hip replacement, but it was hard to believe! Richard Lester gave his usual highly charismatic account of the cello concerto, and Sir Rog enjoyed spiralling round to the audience triumphantly at the end of each symphony.

The hotel bar was buzzing until late!

Wed Mar 16

Raining. A subdued start to the long bus journey ahead, but people gradually perked up. Coffee-stop in a service-station that seemed solely geared to the needs of truckers, including a viagra-related section of mind-boggling variety.

Eventually the welcome sight of Manhattan hove into view, and in due course we streamed into the impressive foyer of the Empire Hotel, known to us as ” The Vampire” from days of yore. Sadly, the foyer is the most impressive thing about the hotel, as a lot of the rooms are tiny and dark, but at least no cockroaches or bedbugs this time, in spite of dark forecasts from our more pessimistic colleagues!
Lest this all sounds somewhat churlish, the ultra-positive thing about the Vampire is that it is on Broadway, bang next to the Lincoln Center, so extremely central, and very close to Central Park. The sun started shining as soon as we alighted from the bus, and I scuttled up to “Willow”, a boutique on Amsterdam, so beloved of OAE ladies that it ought to have a charter by special appointment to OAE! My mission was to find a coloured shirt for the 2nd concert on the 18th, about which more later.

It was Sir Roger’s Birthday, so we launched into a rendering of an apposite tune, to which he responded by asking for more vibrato! At the end of the rehearsal, following presentation of a card, 2 cakes (for general consumption) and something bottle-shaped, by Stephen Carpenter (OAE Chief Executive), a more doleful speech was forthcoming, on the occasion of Richard Lester’s last concert with us as a named principal. On top of his other commitments, he has a new baby.  However, happily clutching his bottle (Richard) he promised he would be available for future guest appearances.

The sold-out concert appeared to be a barn-storming success with the highly vocal audience! A great experience for us all, in spite of the somewhat overbearing backstage staff, who continued bossing us up to the moment we paraded out on stage. Not very conducive to Artistic Expression…

Afterwards, we were invited to a drinks reception, where we encountered, amongst other luminaries, Chris Hogwood and Alina Ibragamova.

Annette Isserlis, OAE Viola

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