Tuesday, September 05, 2006


As we traveled to Berlin this morning, I could not help but look with great anticipation to our concert tonight in Berlin at the famed Philharmonie – the home of the Berlin Philharmonic. After all, Berlin and Philadelphia are often mentioned in the same breath when speaking of the world’s best orchestras, along with our “Big 5” brethren in the U.S. and the Vienna Philharmonic. It goes without saying that we all give everything in the tank for every concert. But I would venture to guess that our institutional pride kicked in just a little bit more tonight and we put some extra whiz on that Philly Cheese Steak for those Berliners! Nothing motivates like performing before colleagues and we knew that sprinkled in the audience would be members of the BP. The concert was a tremendous success and rest assured – nothing was left out on that stage.

Of the world’s numerous orchestras, only a few elite ones get to enjoy the privilege of regular international touring. Moving an orchestra of over 100 musicians plus support staff and stage crew through numerous cities for 2 or 3 weeks at a time is exceedingly expensive - just imagine the airfares and hotel rooms alone. Planning begins over three years in advance of each tour. Throw in the shipping of wardrobe trunks, double basses, percussion instruments, even a small library of music and it becomes obvious why only a few organizations can tour.

On this tour, our smallest passenger is an impossibly adorable baby named Rosie. Rosalie Kraines is the 5 month old daughter of my stand partner, violinist Juliette Kang. Julie, as we call her, is traveling with her family; husband Tom, who is a cellist, and baby Rosie. On this trip, Tom’s primary role is not to play the cello, but instead to be a pack mule through airports as well as to take care of his daughter while Julie rehearses and performs. For many of us who have already passed this stage in life, seeing this young couple travel all over Europe with an infant, experiencing all the trials and tribulations of first time parenthood, warms our hearts and brings back many fond memories.

I speak from experience when I say it is not easy touring with a baby. All our colleagues are very understanding and supportive with families. But when it’s your baby that’s doing the crying on the plane, a parent just can’t help but feel anxiety. Tom and Julie must have zero blood pressure: they are so calm and unflappable under any circumstances (i.e. Rosie wailed with gusto while our plane sat on the tarmac for 2 hours in Philadelphia, delayed by congestion before our 8 hour night flight to Germany).

And then after a concert, no musician can go right to bed. Most of us have a drink and a snack, if not dinner, and unwind. Not Tom and Julie: while everyone else is heading out to celebrate at Trattoria Delicioso, they are silently doing puzzles by the nightlight or sharing a takeout sandwich while sitting on the floor in the sliver of light from the bathroom with a mug of lukewarm wine while Rosie sleeps. Many of us are marveling at how great Tom and Julie are as new parents WHILE touring abroad. They are creating memories which will last a lifetime. And let’s not forget about Rosie herself: she has been an exemplary baby and is handling all the travel with aplomb. Earlier today, as we watched her set off to explore yet another new city while strapped to her Dad, Paul Demers said correctly, “Rosie is such a good sport!”


At 3:38 AM, Blogger Juliette said...


you are far too kind. And the orchestra and all the travellers were very patient with us bumbling first time parents... It was a great tour!


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