Quartet Journal

The Travails of Travel

The quartet is on its way to Aix-en-Provence, France for a one-week ProQuartet seminar with Natalia Prishepenko, former first violinist of the Artemis Quartet. For most of us, it is our first time to France, not to mention the south of France! We are undoubtedly excited, but first comes the travelling...

After this past week of concerts in New York City, we found ourselves preparing to be on the road for a good two and a half months. We had barely a day to get our home affairs in order - doing laundry, cleaning our apartments for sublets, figuring out our numerous mail-forwarding addresses, running a host of errands, deciding how to pack three months worth of clothing into one suitcase, the list goes on. Thankfully everything went smoothly - everyone brought their passports and visas to the airport, instruments were all allowed on board the plane - and we have arrived in Frankfurt on a four-hour layover. Ironically, it feels slightly unsettling having four hours with nothing to do, so everyone gets back to work...with the exception of Abigail, who was endearingly (but somewhat unfortunately) befriended by a sleepless toddler the entire flight. Notepads, cellphones and computers come out, and discussions are had about repertoire, concert engagements and rehearsal schedules.

As far as travels go, these experiences are pretty commonplace for performing musicians: the sleepless nights leading up to a big trip, the occasional tussle with airline staff about overhead space for a viola (though we've experienced nothing as serious as this or this), and coping with all forms of jet lag. However, crazier things have happened on previous trips. On one occasion, Abigail and Dorothy both had their wallets stolen from the green room while they were onstage for a concert. Another time, we realized we were missing one part of a Ligeti Quartet, following which countless phone calls were made trying to locate someone with access to a music library...now we scan our parts and save them online, and we advise everyone to do the same!

Yes, travelling can be stressful at times, but it affords us the opportunity to visit new places, learn about the different cultures, and perform the music we love for lovely audiences all around the world. For that reason, we embrace it as part of the larger experience, which finds its culmination and fulfillment on the concert stage. Now, just so long as all our instruments are allowed on board the next flight......