Alban's Blog

On Tour with János

When I announced end of January that during the next month I would be home for only four days, my son János started shedding some tears; he loves his Mom, but he can’t talk to her about soccer, can’t practise the piano with her and besides this, she is a woman anyway 🙂 It made me feel very guilty – this was exactly the reason I didn’t want to become a soloist when I was young, because I wanted to be there for my children. Well, I have managed only one so far, but at least this one has a rather strong bond with his father, growing the older he gets (the bond). And then I had an idea: For almost a week I was going to go on a little mini-tour with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie – same piece five times, only two rehearsals, and all the cities in the same region, which meant not much travelling involved.

Quickly I checked the hotels in the region and “stuff to do” and found out that in winter there isn’t much to do – except the so-called “Spaßbäder”, fun-pools, with water-slides and various other attractions. Funny enough the period of this tour fell exactly during his winter holidays. I admit, going skiing is more fun than going on tour with your father, but it’s better than sitting at home. He was rather excited about the idea, and thus I booked interesting hotels near but not right at the concert locations. The best one we had yesterday, near Paderborn, where the first concert took place: a hotel connected with one of these Event-swimmingpools which was also a therme (hot water from deep inside the earth with tons of minerals) where we went right after the last rehearsal in Herford, home of the orchestra, for a nice swim before the concert.

Also yesterday, with a concert in Minden about 60 miles north, we had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves in the water for three hours: timing ourselves going down the slides as fast as possible, playing handball in the water, swimming for half hour in the big pool (ayayay, soooo out of shape…), relaxing in the whirlpools or getting massages under a big water-cascade – I felt like new-born and dead tired. Is that the perfect preparation for the difficult Lalo-concerto, you might ask? Oh yes, it is definitely better than sitting at the computer, the telephone or behind the cello and getting unhappy – spending quality and fun time with one’s most loved person is so fulfilling that I am sure it translates into the music-making.

And as long as I get half hour of sleep one or two hours before the concert I am as fresh and awake as ever, and this I can do even while an eleven-year-old is playing Fifa10 (a soccer game) on his playstation which I wisely allowed to be taken with us. You may not really be interested in the exact timings, I could imagine, but since I might be reading these lines in 20 years (like a diary), I will just write them down, our “holiday” yesterday in Bad Lippspringe:

Because of a late night (delicious pizza at Mama’s pizza in Schloss Neuhaus and some thrilling hockey in Vancouver’s Olympic games on TV) we slept until 9:30, went to breakfast, packed, stuffed everything into the car before going into the Westfalen-Therme from noon until 3pm. Late lunch, drive to the next hotel near Minden for about an hour, arrived there at 5pm, I slept 40 min. and practised almost 90 min. (yes, Lalo is a hard piece, I can only warn the colleagues who haven’t played it in concert yet…), and at 7:15pm we drove to the rather charm-free Stadthalle of Minden. Freezing back-stage area, but quite a careful-listening audience with even some cheers at the end. Cheers, in North-Rhine-Westfalia? Well, there was a school-class in the audience which I met in intermission, and they tend to bring a bit more excitement…

I am ashamed to say that we left after intermission through the back-door, but we were starving, and besides this we needed to know how our soccer-team Hertha BSC (the loosers of Deutsche Bundesliga these days) were doing in the Europe League against Benfica Lisbon (well, at least they didn’t loose). At 11pm we arrived back to our little hotel in the middle of nowhere (but with a nice pool!), watched a bit Olympic games until we fell asleep without any hesitation, father and son equally exhausted.

Now I am sitting alone at breakfeast with a cup of coffee, waiting for the little man to wake up – in two hours I promised to play and talk in front of 60 kids of a high-school in Herford which is at least a 45 min drive, so I’d better hurry up and wake the sleeping giant…


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