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LA Phil Lands in London


After a 10.5 hour flight from LAX to London Heathrow, the remainder of the Philharmonic contingent arrived and settled in. The Green Umbrella group had flown in a few days before, and the Gospel According to the Other Mary a couple days preceding those of us playing the Zipangu/Firebird/La Mer program. The first two concerts were very well reviewed and played to capacity houses at the Barbican Center. We started with a day off so we took some time for sight-seeing and walking around the town. From the hotel, we walked up to Oxford Street:



Droves of people on Oxford Street


One thing that we noticed all day was the huge number of people walking around – everywhere we looked, so many people! We took a turn towards Trafalgar Square to enjoy some time at the National Gallery and stumbled on a big gathering of Russians for their Easter holiday of Maslenitsa, a week long festival taking place in London. The crowd was large and enjoyed the folk songs and dances. After a little while, the rain stopped and some blue skies opened up above us:




We enjoyed some 19th- and 20th-century art at the museum and headed towards Parliament and Big Ben, an easy landmark to find! The building is impressive in its ornate design; every nook and sheet of gold leaf was fresh and shiny from the afternoon’s rain:






With all that walking, we decided to cool our heels back at the hotel before going out again, in the rain this time, to an Indonesian dinner. Along the way was a theater playing an apropos show:




The next day we had a general rehearsal for the Debussy/Stravinsky program. The Barbican was a very welcoming hall for us:




The LA Phil takes over the Barbican Center stage


Rob Schaer and Jim Wilt peek out of the center-stage window


Following the rehearsal, I had the chance to spend some time walking up and down Brick Lane, famous for Indian cuisine and culture. The cabbie informed me that it got its name from the two factories at either end, supplying the bulk of bricks for London during the 1800s growth spurt. Now, one of the brick factories has been turned into the Truman Brewery, open for public tours and tastings:




The curries were fantastic and it was fascinating to be so deep in the pocket of culture. Time to get back on the bus and head to the hall for the concert. We played to a packed house, more than two thousand strong. Here is Gustavo after the Vivier, the concert opener:




The rest of us piled on stage and played a great show; wonderful solos, tight ensemble, it was memorable for all of us. We got back on the bus and had a very smooth St. Patrick’s day drive back to the hotel, passing along the way:


St. Paul’s cathedral at night


Now it’s time to travel to Luzern! See you there…

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