I am now in Sarzana, Italy preparing the last two of the orchestras for the tour. I’ll be here until tomorrow and then we take a car to Venice a city that I am absolutely fascinated with.
At the point that I left off I was about to do my final concert in Cap Roig, Spain. It was a beautiful resort community and smaller venue than previous performances. The audience was really close to the stage which is always nice. The challenge we had was in the sound check. The temperature was fine but we were right on a body of water so the wind was blowing crazy hard. My music was blowing and the orchestra musicians were having a hard time. The other challenge with a blending the classical orchestra and pop artist is the issue of music. The band obviously has the music memorized so they do not have to turn pages or in this case clip their music to the music stand. So transitioning from one piece to the next has to be done at a pretty good clip. Rhani the percussionist counts me off for most pieces to make sure we get started at the right speed. So as the conductor I am trying to hurry the orchestra to get ready, Rhani is ready to go and of course Sting wants the show to have a certain rhythm and pace to go. It was quite a balancing act. We had fun and by concert time the winds had died down quite a bit.
Following Cap Roig I had a 3 day break before rehearsals resumed in Palermo Sicily. My first time in Sicily and the immediate thing I learned was that the island of Sicily is really hot. I had to break out the shorts for this one. Once I was situated I needed to find things to do to occupy my time. The nice lady at the Hilton front desk suggested hopping a train to a village called Cefalu’. That is what we did the next day. Beautiful community with beaches, good food and lovely churches. The next day was time to explore the city of Palermo. Went to the catacombs (a bit icky), tour of the opera house, cathedral and got to have some gelato in the heat. I also realized that one of my former teachers Ennio Nicotra lived in Palermo so we got together for some pizza and he took me around the city.
The next day back to work with the Orchestra Sinfonica Di Palermo Arturo Toscanini. This was such a nice orchestra to work with. We rehearsed in a movie theater that would show the latest Harry Potter movie after our rehearsals. But it was actually a nice space to play and it was a real stage. Another thing that was cool and had never happened to me before was that after the concertmaster introduced me the whole orchestra stood up. I didn’t really know what to do whether to bow or clap my hands or do jumping jacks. It was a nice gesture on their part. We got right to work. The music came together rather fast and following our last rehearsal you could smell the popcorn as they cleared the stage and brought down the screen for the showing of Harry Potter.
Following Palermo we headed to Sarzana by plane to work with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Massa e Carrara. When we arrived in Sarzana I was not sure what to make of the city. We were met by Nicola who was the Orchestra Manager/Tenor/Bodybuilder. A very nice handsome young man who works out A LOT! All of sudden I was missing my Brazilian Jiu Jutsu and yoga classes. It is hard to workout on the road with the travel and the energy needed for rehearsals. Sarzarna is quite historic. The night that we arrived we went out to dinner with the concertmaster in the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Great food and friendship. It was nice to hear about the orchestra and how excited they were about doing the concert with Sting. In fact the orchestra did 9 hours of rehearsal before my arrival. That certainly helped in rehearsal. Still things to work on but it put us ahead of the game. One unique thing about the rehearsals there was that the rehearsals were from 5 – 8 and 9-midnight. They scheduled things this way because the Teatro Impavidi did not have air conditioning. It was a beautiful little theatre that is nicknamed La Scala Picola. I tried to let the orchestra out early. Another thing that I really got into here was gelato. Mmmmmm good and I have probably gained about 10 pounds on this trip. I was able to finish the second day of rehearsals up at about 10:30 PM so we all went out and got some more gelato before saying goodbye. We returned to the hotel and packed and now I’m in a van headed to Venice to work my last orchestra. The city of water taxis and gondolas. It should be fun. More to come.