Street advertising in Pamplona

I’m singing (like a canary) in the rain…

We travelled from San Sebastian by coach at midday and arrived in Pamplona at about 1.45pm. This was another new city for the orchestra to tour to, on the third day of the RLPO Spain Tour 2012. I always enjoy playing in a new foreign city. There is always something different to experience and new life to live.

RLPO travelling to Pamplona

This place had the reputation of being both a beautiful and exciting city. Indeed, Ernest Hemingway had made Pamplona his home. The hotel was nice, once again and the map told me that the concert venue was about 15 minutes or so walk from the hotel, through some beautiful park land. I had two hours to kill before the rehearsal at 4.00pm. It was still raining plenty, but I thought I needed the exercise and the fresh air so I set off.

The citadel containing the castillo adjacent to the concert hall – Pamplona

I walked past some really nice parkland and an old citadel containing a moat & castle etc. Built in 1767 these ruins have been partly restored and making a very interesting diversion.

This was immediately next to the concert venue, the new Auditorio Baluarte de Pamplona. I still had time to kill so I wandered past the concert hall and found the beautiful Old Town. little winding streets led to grand squares and impressive architecture.

A little further on and I stumbled across the extremely impressive bullring with the street named after Ernest Hemingway and a bust to Hemingway placed prominently at the front. Apparently, he was a fan and attended to bull fighting regularly.


The bullring – Pamplona

Of course, most have heard about Pamplona for it’s crazy ‘bull run’ through the streets were humans run alongside rampant bulls as they are charged through the streets. Apparently people are regularly trampled, gored and crushed to death during this famous event. 

I wandered a little further down those lovely streets and came across a beautiful cathedral and an old government building with a statue holding an impressive natural trumpet aloft.

Pamplona Cathedral

Ten minutes to go before the rehearsal so I headed back. The route a took back to the hall took me down Pablo Sarasate way, a native of Pamplona. I didn’t know that!

The Auditorio Baluarte de Pamplona is an impressive modern building and the only one on this tour where the salon resembles the traditional shoe box style of our own Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. Once again we found fantastic back stage facilities.

Pamplona Music College

On the other side of the auditorium was the city Music Conservatoire. What a fascinating building.

The Baluarte – Pamplona

This was another one hour rehearsal. At this stage only the acoustic needed to be tested and just a quick tickle through of the Brahms 2nd piano concerto. Not a bad acoustic either! Perhaps something a little more familiar to the RLPO.

After the rehearsal, one or two members of the RLPO were starting to feel the furious pace of this whistle stop tour and were getting a bit of extra shut eye.

4th Horn Tim Nicholson resting his eyes in the Baluarte – Pamplona

I was feeling a little jaded myself but sometimes matters can feel worse for having a nap in the late afternoon. One of the brass section had found a particular affinity with a bar in the old town at lunchtime, so several of us went there. Once again the theme was bull fighting and bull running but the food was great and look at this jamon.

Nom nom…

Here is a new one for many. I don’t suppose that many have noticed that most concert grand pianos are finished in matt black. One of the reasons for this is the effect on the orchestra when powerful stage lighting is shining down when the piano lid is up. During the rehearsal the piano lid was dazzling those at the back of the orchestra so that they could not see Vasily Petrenko. A cover had to be stuck to the topside of the lid for the performance.

The time for the concert came. Once again the applause was rapturous and encores ensued. Many individual players were stood up for ovations by Vasily, to the sound of cheering.

Back stage preparation – Pamplona

RLPO preparing for performance – Pamplona

After the concert we were segregated on the coaches. One of our 2nd violins, Olga Muszynska, is getting married soon, so the ladies were holding a hen night for her. I accidentally walked past the bar they were using around midnight and I certainly quickened my pace. The atmosphere audibly rang out onto the pavement. They must have had a good night because several said they had sore heads the next day and one of their contingent was shepherded back to the hotel in a police vehicle! (although, to be fair, the young lady in question had merely got lost and the policeman helpfully offered to drive her back to the hotel)

The hotel bar in Pamplona – after the concert!

RLPO Spain Tour 2012 – Alicante

RLPO Spain Tour 2012 – San Sebastian

RLPO Spain Tour 2010 links

Liverpool Philharmonic Blog

TOMORROW… Zaragoza!

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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5 Responses to 3. RLPO SPAIN TOUR 2012 – PAMPLONA

  1. Great blog, Brendan, love all the pics and info as well as the tales of touring. Sounds as though it was a fantastic tour, and I look forward to finding out more when I see you in a couple of weeks for our Pirate Concert. How do you say “aaaaarrr” in Spanish?!!

  2. Pingback: 6. RLPO SPAIN TOUR 2012 – ZARAGOZA | Brendan Ball's Blog

  3. Pingback: 4. RLPO SPAIN TOUR 2012 – SAN SEBASTIAN | Brendan Ball's Blog

  4. Pingback: 7. RLPO SPAIN TOUR 2012 – THE RETURN HOME | Brendan Ball's Blog

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