Monday 28th March. The coach was not leaving Freiburg for Luxembourg until 10.00am that morning so the RLPO all had a relative lie in and time for a more normal breakfast. We arrived about 3.15pm, having stopped for lunch at a service station on the way. The hotel appeared to be in the middle of a huge building site. We traipsed through the cranes, cement mixers and such with all the instruments and stuff. The builders and labourers downed tools momentarily to stare at us all going past. The scene reminded many of us of that old film, Carry on Abroad.’ I wondered if my suite would be next to Hatty Jaques and Sid James. The hotel was very nice, actually: A highlight of the tour.
I had time to go into the beautiful city of Luxembourg to replace the phone charger and computer wire I had broken the evening before. I saw a British pub, called ‘The White Rose’ serving Boddingtons but had to hurry past, unfortunately. I did have time to sit in the sun and enjoy a cool drink on the Place de Paris before catching the bus to the rehearsal. The new concert hall was stunning. Completely ‘state of the art’ in every respect. I can’t think of anything to criticise about it.
Music is a very small world, really, and it was nice to bump into RLPO stalwart conductor Carl Davis. He was working on a film score with the local orchestra during the afternoon. He was equally impressed with the venue. The hall management even provided us with sandwiches etc for the break before the concert. Fantastic! Head of RLPO programming, Sandra Parr played a prank on Carl. She approached him at the interval with the score to Manfred and said that Vasily had been taken ill and we were all relying on Carl to save the day with the baton! It is indeed fortunate that Carl has such a robust sense of humour!
Once again the audience loved it and demanded an encore. Back at the hotel afterwards, everyone crowded into the hotel bar to be joined by a coach load of Japanese tourists wearing pollution masks. It is a terrible tragedy that has befallen that country. Danny Hammerton, one of the RLPO bass section had been on a suspension bridge in Tokyo, as an extra with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, filming on a coach when the tragedy occurred. We watched his footage in awe-struck silence.