It hadn’t occurred to me until a few days ago that this is the first time in the past six years that I haven’t been on tour with the orchestra in November. Usually around this time of year I’m far from home, living out of a suitcase and praying that flights leave on time.
I have a love / hate relationship with touring. There’s no doubt that it was the most stressful part of my job as Orchestra Manager. Traveling with 75 people is never easy, and it became exponentially more difficult when the orchestra toured internationally. Visas, buses, hotels, flights, artists, cargo, language, currency, sponsors – these are the things that kept me awake for many a night before a tour.
On the other hand, there’s a part of me that really misses touring. For a few weeks a year, you get to leave your comfortable existence and go on an adventure. Charter flights, luxury hotels, fabulous concert halls, lavish receptions – there are definitely some nice perks. You work hard, but there are times when you can sneak in some sightseeing or a nice dinner.
Some of my favourite moments on tour were just hanging out with staff and musicians. You really get to know people when you travel with them, and I will miss spending time with people backstage, or on the bus, or in a hotel lounge after a concert, discussing music, family, whatever. I found tours broke down some of the natural barriers that exist between an orchestra and the administration, and it was a welcome change.
Once the boys arrived, the best part was coming home from a tour. It was hard being away from Aidan the first time. He was five months old during the U.S. Mexico Tour, and I can remember how anxious I was to get off the plane in Ottawa and hold him for the first time in 17 days.
Over the years, I traveled with the orchestra to 50 cities in 10 countries. Someday I’ll write about some of the more memorable tour stories – the ill-fated trip to the Middle East, flooding in Locarno, the missing pants in Dusseldorf, the snowball fight in Charlottetown. Of course, names will be changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty. After all, what happens on tour stays on tour…