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Road Trip
Sam Bergman on tour with the Minnesota Orchestra...

    About RoadTrip

    Road Trip chronicled the European tour of the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb 9-27, 2004) through the eyes of one of the orchestra's violists - Sam Bergman. The blog generated lots of interest, and was written about in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Sam was also invited on the BBC to talk about the tour and also wrote a piece about the orchestra's performance in London for the London Evening Standard. You can see all of the blogs entries by going here.

    An orchestra on tour is a fascinating beast, part driven professional ensemble, part massive tourist group, and part frat house. This blog is designed to impart some part of that experience to readers who ordinarily aren't invited to the backstage party.

    First, though, a word about what this blog won't be. I have no intention of being the orchestral world's answer to Jim Bouton, and I won't be blowing the lid off of any deep, dark industry secrets. This is meant to be an insider's view of the largest single event an orchestra can undertake - a major international tour - and I'll do my best to be as descriptive as I can. But if I'm furious with my stand partner because he jumped in early on a tricky passage in the Beethoven symphony we're playing, you won't read about it here. Nor will you be getting any blow-by-blow accounts of backstage arguments or private gossip. I like my job, and I like the people I work with, and I'd like to keep it that way.

    That having been said, there's a lot going on on your average tour, and I intend to chronicle the publishable aspects of it as completely as time allows. An orchestra works harder on tour than at any other time, and plays harder as well. A tour is our chance to show the world what we can do, and to solidify or improve our international profile, but it can also be a chance to take a spectacular fall in front of a global audience. The pressure to play our best in certain key cities can be overwhelming, but exhilirating as well.

    This is a very important tour for the Minnesota Orchestra. It's our first time away from home with our new music director, Osmo Vänskä, who has been lauded in the press as a leader with the potential to elevate the orchestra to the highest echelons of the orchestral ranks. The fact that we are touring in Osmo's first year as music director has also been well-noted, and depending on what critic you ask, it is either a sign of the maestro's great respect for his musicians, or a foolish gamble with the potential for major disappointment. A successful tour could have a major impact on the way we are viewed by the national and international press, whereas a run of negative or even lukewarm critical reaction could further consign us to the orchestral bin labelled "Second Tier." Musicians are extremely sensitive to such distinctions, and as such, a good tour can be the ultimate morale builder.

    The tour begins on February 8, when we'll fly to New York for our only stateside stop at Carnegie Hall. Over the ensuing 18 days, we'll play 13 concerts in five countries. We'll hit every major European musical capital, and finish up with concerts in Glasgow, Scotland (where Osmo was recently principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony) and Lahti, Finland (the city where Osmo made his name as director of Sinfonia Lahti for the past 18 years.) We will carry 8 full-length musical works, 5 encores, and 4 soloists with us. There will be 7 different concert programs, 11 different hotels, and more plane flights and bus rides than I care to count. With luck, as many as two dozen newspapers could publish reviews, and two of our local critics will be coming along for part of the trip, as well. (The Lahti concert will also be broadcast live back home in Minnesota.)

    It should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that anything published in this blog is solely the responsibility of its author. My opinions are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, the Minnesota Orchestra Members' Committee, or any of my colleagues in the orchestra. As I said, I don't expect to be airing any dirty laundry in these pages, but I do tend to have opinions, and it would be a shame if something I wrote were viewed as anything more than the ravings of one crazed violist.

    So, with the disclaimers and explanations out of the way, I hope you'll come along for the ride. It should be an exciting month on the road...

    Sam Bergman
    Feb. 6, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN


ROADTRIP archives

About Sam Bergman
I'm a violist, mostly. A writer, sometimes. There's more (a lot more,) but that's really all you absolutely need to know to understand this blog... More

About RoadTrip
Road Trip chronicled the European tour of the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb 9-27, 2004) through the eyes of one of the orchestra's violists - Sam Bergman. The blog generated lots of interest, and was written about in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Sam was also invited on the BBC to talk about the tour and also wrote a piece about the orchestra's performance in London for the London Evening Standard. You can see all of the blogs entries by going here. More

About This Tour
From Feb. 8 to 27, The Minnesota Orchestra will be on tour. First stop is Carnegie Hall, then on to 11 European cities. To see the complete list of soloists, venues and repertoire, click here --> More

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Minnesota Orchestra
Tour Concert Schedule
February 9-26, 2004

2/9 - New York
2/12 - Vienna
2/13 - Vienna
2/15 - Frankfurt
2/16 - Berlin
2/17 - Düsseldorf
2/18 - Cologne
2/19 - Stuttgart
2/21 - Leeds (England)
2/22 - London
2/24 - Birmingham
2/25 - Glasgow (Scotland)
2/26 - Lahti (Finland)


What They're Saying...

Complete Set of Translated Tour Reviews - courtesy Minnesota Orchestra

Fascinating Notes - Washington Post 02/27/04

Osmo, Master of Beethoven - The Guardian (UK) 02/25/04

That Same Old American Sound - Financial Times 02/24/04

In Waiting No More - The Times of London 02/24/04


Minnesota Orchestra
The official web site. C'mon, buy a ticket. We need the money. More

The Virtual Tour
The orchestra's European tour in multimedia, for students and teachers. More

Minnesota Public Radio
They'll be broadcasting the final concert of the tour live from Lahti, Finland, and webcasting it from their site. I'll also be writing brief virtual postcards for the MPR site throughout the tour. More

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Strib reporter Kristin Tillotson will be jetting around Europe with us for a few tour stops. More

St. Paul Pioneer Press
The PiPress's intrepid arts editor Matt Peiken is tagging along, too, and experience suggests that he will have a unique take on things. More


Other Stuff I Like...

eighth blackbird.
If classical music needs saving, and I'm not saying it does, these six musicians are the ones to do it. I'm biased, since they're old friends, but it's a fact that there aren't a lot of contemporary music ensembles out there with serious chops and a dead-on sense of what makes music exciting. If there were any justice in the world, 8BB would be as well-known as the Emerson Quartet.

The Mischke Broadcast.
Every weeknight at 10, T.D. Mischke takes to the airwaves of KSTP-AM, and radio is worthwhile again. The only unique voice on an otherwise worthless right-wing talk station, Mischke is a legend in the Twin Cities, capable of comforting an elderly cancer patient in one breath, and launching into an improvised song about the dangers of Black & Decker toasters in the next. The station airs a live stream, and you can catch Mischke from 10pm to midnight Central Time.

Eddie From Ohio.
Greatest band on the planet. Truly. If orchestra concerts were half as fun as EFO's live shows, we'd be beating off ticket-buyers with a stick.

St. Paul Saints.
The Twin Cities' "other" baseball team has gotten endless media attention for its gimmickry and quirky ownership group (which includes Bill Murray and Mike Veeck.) But in their decade of existence, the Saints have brought a love of the summer game back to thousands of Minnesotans who had despaired of ever again seeing a double play turned outdoors. Every musician's gotta have an addiction of some sort, and the Saints are mine.



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