January and February can be are difficult months in which to travel. I think many ensembles would agree with this! A few years ago we were due in South Wales and of course the travel day had to be the day when the Severn Bridge was closed due to strong winds. We had to make a massive detour, arriving just in time for the concert, but no platform rehearsal. Our most recent visit to Wales, although further north, near Wrexham, was just a few days ago, and in good weather. Playing for music societies in these rural areas is a real joy. Very often the audience is culturally sophisticated and extremely welcoming. Performing chamber music in these conditions is really what it is all about. The connection between performers and audience is so strong.
Travelling weather conditions are inevitably unpredictable, as is the piano in an unknown venue. A possibly more important factor though is the acoustic. There is nothing more uplifting at the start of the platform rehearsal than to find that the sound flows in a warm and unforced way, dynamics can be observed and heard, and consequently muscles relax. Equally important, though, is not to be thrown by a dry acoustic, often found in a theatre, where whatever one does the tone seems to be poor. It can be hard to conquer the feel of pessimism in these circumstances. I love performing in a large church where there is an added dimension – well our concert in Chichester cathedral is not far away!
We are looking forward to a number of concerts this spring and hope that the better weather will encourage audiences out. Whether a player or listener, and I am sure we all agree that there is nothing like the experience of a live concert.