Mud From A Scraper
No. 3 in an occasional series.
Musicians on Tour
- between rehearsal and performance -
One of the least popular features of the orchestral musician's life is the out of town concert, or gig. This usually involves early rising, a long coach or train journey, the expense of buying meals, and a late return as well as the customary rehearsal and performance. For all this, the player receives little extra remuneration.
There is invariably great anxiety about catching the return train, and it is accepted that the last movement of the last work in a concert is always played faster than on any previous occasion. The conductor may object to this, but is usually overruled. Experienced musicians have a wide knowledge of the shortest route from every concert hall to the nearest station, via some public house.
Touring may consist either of a string of provincial concerts spread around the country, or of a longer period in just one or two towns. The first kind is generally detested, as the player is away from his customary haunts, and is not long enough in any one place to settle into a routine; the second is more easily tolerated and some musicians may even enjoy such a sojourn as it provides an opportunity for making new acquaintances and playing on fresh golf courses. Whatever its effect upon musicians, touring is a long-standing custom, part of their contract. A beneficial side effect of touring is that it boosts sales of recordings.
The main problem attached to visiting strange towns is that of finding reasonably priced accommodation. Alas, some musicians welcome tours as a justifiable excuse for getting away from wife and home, and, in common with sailors and commercial travellers, tend to have a sweetheart in many towns. Such players rarely have accommodation problems.
Musicians pay one of their few tributes to culture when working out-of-town, for no beauty spot, abbey or historic building in provincial towns is left unvisited. The purpose of this is two-fold: to be able to say they have been there when asked by curious grandchildren and also to help prove to suspicious wives that they have really been away on a job at all. Most take their cameras to add evidence to their stories; some have even been known to hand these to accomplices to take pictures for them, when their motives for going out-of-town were less than professional.