Tuesday, August 09, 2005

new york


The two of us destined for New York were up at 5 am the morning after Mitridate. Three hours bus journey, a flight from Munich to Paris, three hours wait in Roissy and a flight to JFK later we arrived in New York. The sun was pinkly dimming as the skyline etched it's aborted shape against the sky through the wire mesh and between the neon signs of the butt end of Long Island. I smelt the familiar pong of bagels, trash, blueberries and stewed coffee and it was thrilling to be back.

On arrival at the Beacon Hotel at well into the evening we fell out of the bus eager to shower and hit the upper west side, albeit gently given that the rehearsal was at 9 am the next morning. My old school friends were waiting to share sesame noodles with me at Empire Sezchuan.....

Then came the news that, after we had given up 48 hours of our free time to obtain visas, were to do a rehearsal and a Lincoln Centre debut sandwiched in between travelling en 'groupe' (baaaaaa) for twenty one hours twice in the space of sixty, we were being asked to share rooms. Until that point we had all been fighting back our anger at the lunatic schedule, the visa problems and the lack of any thanks, and drawing upon our goodwill and our desire to do everything in our power to support our chef in her group's debut. Being asked to share the night with a stranger and being denied even the space to fart in private was unacceptable. Someone somewhere along the chain of admin had accepted this compromise on our behalf. My friend in the same festival had a three roomed suite all to herself so it was obviously not New York, and we were ready to kill whoever it was.

Unfortunately the nearest person was the lovely girl on work experience, and my room-mate. Having worked unpaid for weeks trying to sort out the tangles with the embassy, having obtained a letter from Hilary Clinton's office in support of our visit, she was now the innocent target of our justified fury.

She came in late after having to attend the chamber music concert and woke me up. I spent much of the night wanting to have a pee and, to the accompaniment of the pre-historic air-con, wondering what she was doing in the bathroom for so long. My night crazed fantasies ranged from bulimia to wrist-slitting. Of course she was simply reading a magazine. Having established this I managed to sleep at 4, but was woken at 5 as she closed the squeaky door, abandoning the night in favour of wandering in to the NYC dawn. It, combined with the travel and jet lag, was perfect preparation for one of the most important concerts of my life.

Things did not improve at the rehearsal. We knew we had been squeezed in to a tight budget and people wanted to know who had chosen where to make the cuts.

Questions - "Can you look me in the eye and tell me you didn't know until today that we had to share rooms?" and defensive reactions - "Let's just cancel this rehearsal and the concert and you just go and walk around New York." were being hurled in to the sumptuous waiting acoustic of Alice Tully Hall. Then our chef walked out and we were alone on stage with our scores and instruments, and this was when the magic thing happened. We simply started to play. We started without our chef because we were there to do this concert and we were there to play Rameau. After a while the music seemed to transform our feelings and carry us to peaceful shores. Eventually our chef crept back and started to move with us, slowly riding on our enthusiasm back to hers and we commenced our together.

In between rehearsal and concert I had two hours to get a slice of the Big Apple whilst trying not to tire myself out. After a brunch of lobster eggs benedict and a mimosa at the Ocean Grill on Columbus with friends, I was taken on a whirlwind tour of Barnes and Noble by Morgan and gifted his recent publications and other books read on his honeymoon or which were rocking the New York literary and music scenes. I even managed to cram in a trip to Kheil's next door where I stocked up on their infamous moisturiser. The girl who served me, charmed naturally by my accent, took the time, aswell as filling a paper bag to overflowing with samples for a never ending plane journey, to give me a bit of 78th street savvy advice:

"I am just going to close your bag for you, honey. I can see all your tampons."

It was time for the gig. Given the tension of the previous weeks and the absolute lack of rest, I am proud to say we rose above ourselves and our woes and we socked it to our packed house. However, there was something floaty about it all. We had literally not landed and you could hear it. By the time the audience rose to it's feet we were too burned out to let in their enthusiasm.

The New York Times Review was very good, but more importantly here's what our fortune cookies had to say:

'Beware the dishonest man in the workplace'
'The joyfulness of man prolongs his days'

That, to me, says it all.



Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That's one for the book, Ruth.

11:29 AM  

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