By Brian Yoon
Saturday, 2 April — Ottawa to Vancouver
Sunday, 3 April — Vancouver
The orchestra woke up this morning in Vancouver after arriving late the previous evening at the Sandman Hotel. After quickly checking in and dropping off our bags, Ryan Cole (my roommate on the tour) and I had headed up Robson Street in search of food just as some restaurants started to close; we caught the last call at a Chinese place, filling up on tasty seafood and spicy fried chicken.
After waking up to this pleasant view, I set out for some breakfast. Since I grew up in Vancouver, I was confident I would be able to find a familiar place to eat at 8:30 am on a Sunday: I gladly walked past the nearby McDonald’s, but in the end, all I could find was a Starbucks on Granville St.
Around 10 am, I went to the Orpheum to check on my instrument, which had arrived in Vancouver after midnight due to flight complications. Throughout the tour, the cellos were transported inside well padded crates borrowed from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (thank you VSO!). Immediately after each performance, the cellos were placed inside the crates and transported separately from the musicians. I removed my cello from [Ariel Barnes’] crate for the last time, and did a little warm-up in the dressing room, going over as usual the very exposed and surprisingly difficult solo in the second movement of the Stravinsky Firebird Suite. Since I had more time than anticipated, I also tackled a few pages of the Britten opera (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), for which rehearsals were scheduled only two days after the final performance of the tour.
I returned to the hotel to pack my suitcase and check out of the room. After a slightly unsettled performance in Ottawa (April 1), Tania, our music director, had decided to schedule an acoustic rehearsal (a.k.a sound check) for the Vancouver performance, so we had to take our belongings to the Orpheum a bit earlier than originally planned. The rehearsal turned out to be a good idea; the acoustics in the Orpheum were quite different from those in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre.
After the rehearsal, everyone quickly went out in search of lunch. I took advantage of the Korean market (H Mart) across the street, and filled up on kimbap and soondae (blood sausage) with a fellow Korean in the orchestra.
The performance went very well. For me personally, it was great to have some family in the audience. Stewart gave yet another commanding performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto, and it was a pleasure to play the Copland in the warm and open acoustics of the Orpheum.
Following the concert, the musicians of the VSO hosted a generous reception for us. We unfortunately could not stay very long, as we had to catch the 7 pm ferry back to Victoria. Onboard the ferry, many of us spent our remaining per diems on the Pacific Buffet; we were definitely the loudest group in the room! On the other side, some musician were picked up at the ferry terminal, and the rest took the bus to the Royal Theatre, where it all began.
Monday, 3 April — Victoria
I was hardly able to rest the first day back in Victoria. From 10 am, I was at meetings and running errands; in the afternoon, I learnt a few more pages of the Britten and taught for three hours, finishing at 6 pm. After a quick dinner, I was at the Royal Theatre for the final performance of the tour program.
We were welcomed home by a packed audience. Despite being tired, we again put out 100%, perhaps enjoying each phrase a little more, not knowing when we would play those pieces again.
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