I left London as rough winds shook the darling buds of May…. And arrived to a cloudless warm autumn morning in Sydney, where I am spending two recovery days before travelling on to my first destination of this five week tour : New Zealand. I will play four concerts with the New Zealand Symphony, performing the Britten concerto.
Day one is an endurance test, a determination to stay awake after an early morning arrival, a trip to a favourite coffee shop, an attempt to practise (reflexes slow and brain foggy), a swim, supper and then at last, bed – though more likely the body clock will wake me at 3am, and tomorrow will be another grappling with the rapid time change. New Zealand is currently BST + 11 hours + reduced daylight. I find the best policy is to forget comparisons completely and start again.
I always meet many touring musicians here, all charmed by the experience of travelling in this part of the world, but comparing jetlag and swapping stories of working on little or disrupted sleep. There is something of a sport about this, but audiences rightly make no allowances for physical disruption – and I note that my very first concert is a live broadcast.
My New Zealand Symphony concerts are a welcome reinvitation, and my violin benefactor Christopher Marshall, whom many know from the Peasmarsh Festival, will be flying up from Christchurch to attend. In a few weeks I’ll also be returning to the Sydney Symphony for three concerts in the Opera House, playing Steve Mackey’s remarkable violin concerto “Beautiful Passing”. Steve is another familiar name to Peasmarsh audiences, though this powerful piece, a reflection on the death of his mother, which pits the solo violin against a huge orchestra, is stylistically quite different from the works we played at the Festival.
In addition, I’ll be directing two projects with the Tasmanian and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, playing Mozart’s Paris Symphony alongside solo works. In my fairly regular trips down under I have not so far made it to Tasmania, and I’m looking forward to seeing the wild island state. I’ve put aside a whole day to visit the mind-altering Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, as I’ve lost count of the number of friends who have warned me not to miss it : google “MONA Hobart” and you will see why.
My suitcase is weighed down with scores – some of them relating to the Festival, which currently feels distant but will approach rapidly. See you in a few weeks!