Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian plays bass in an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Blog of the tour – part one

Order of Lenin, hold the Mayo

The last time the orchestra came to Japan I flew with the group and found myself assigned to a uncomfortable center seat beside two of my more talkative colleagues. About eight hours into a thirteen hour flight, when my interest in the shoes sizes of offspring, what was eaten for lunch on certain day, the cost of various consumer items and so on and so forth reached its nadir, I began hatching a bold plan about what to do should I ever be called upon to return to the land of the rising sun. Hardly worth mentioning now, at the time it seemed entirely reasonable to chart an overland journey across Canadian provinces, the frozen tundra of Alaska, fording the Bering Strait, before island hoping my way down out of Siberia, eventually arriving comfortably by bullet train at Tokyo station, twenty two months late. Eventually it struck me that what I ought to do is simply book myself on a different flight, so that’s what I did.

There are a few ‘jetlag days’ at the beginning of a tour, free of rehearsals or concerts, sorely needed to get over the time change. Things really began on Friday, January 29.

Breakfast came in two installments today. 7:30 AM, coffee at the Dotour coffee shop in the Shibuya train station. Later, the ‘Breakfast Set’ at Cafe de Crié in the Minato Mirai complex, consisting of coffee, toast, and some of the strangest scrambled eggs encountered to date – at least I hope they were eggs – served with lettuce tomato and a large blob of mayonnaise (!). After such an auspicious start, the two rehearsals at Minato Mirai Hall could not but go swimmingly. The acoustic, like most places, is more resonant than we are accustomed to, so ther was some sorting out to do. Haitink mentioned the jet lag and gave the orchestra a compliment – something to the effect that we could probably wake up in the middle of the night in Siberia and still play well – and I thought, to be honest, we’ve already done that. Back in 1990 (or was it ’91?) when we toured the Soviet Union, we made a recording of the Bruckner eighth symphony in (then) Leningrad the day after arriving. I recall waking up during the slow (actually in that symphony, the slowest) movement, realizing I had been playing in my sleep for an undetermined length of time. I have no idea if that is a good recording or not. If so, everybody involved should probably be awarded the Order of Lenin.

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