KWS just got back from a quick tour – the last time this orchestra went out on the road was about 20 years ago. Small/midsize orchestras like us don’t get a lot of chances to tour, which is too bad, because tours really bring groups together and build a sense of unity. Lots of folks were reporting the same sort of experience – “I’ve never really spoken to [musician] because [reasons], but we were at this party last night and started talking and it turns out we have a lot of common ground.” Cool stuff.
But there’s also a plus to not touring all the time. The big prestigious orchestras can easily spend a month or more on tour every year. Sounds like a blast to a rookie 20-something like me, but it’s hard on people who have families to be away from.
Anyways. Left KW at 9:30 AM – pleasant to go to work in the morning and not have to immediately summon the focus for rehearsing. Busses were designated “quiet” and “party” – both were pretty sedate on the trip out. Jim has a custom card table the width of a bus aisle that rests on armrests, and spirited games carried on throughout the tour.
All you can really tell about Perth from the map is that it’s small. I didn’t have high expectations going in, but I’d gladly go back there to visit. It’s strikingly beautiful, very calm, and has no shortage of delicious food. As an Alberta boy it’s still weird for me to see a small town of this size with so many wonderful old stone buildings proclaiming a history dating back to before confederation. Many stonemasons from Scotland apparently settled in Perth after emigrating to Canada, and the names of many of the businesses and buildings about town reflect this past. Speaking of history, Perth was the site of the last fatal duel in Upper Canada!
We had a quick soundcheck (20 minutes) at Perth Collegiate’s Mason Theatre – full rehearsals on tour are rare, but we have a provision in our collective agreement for short acoustical tests which serve a twofold purpose. They give the players a sense of how sound behaves in the concert hall, allowing us to adjust how we’re playing so that the audience gets a performance that sounds closer to what we sound like at home at Centre in the Square. They also allow the orchestra to go over some starts, stops and transitions – this was all music the orchestra knows well and has performed recently, but a quick refresher on how we’re approaching the piece this week never hurts.
The audience was incredibly appreciative and supportive. The show ended with our host thanking the people of Kitchener-Waterloo for preserving and nurturing this cultural treasure. Big thanks are also owed to the people of Perth for inviting us, and to the anonymous donor who made the trip possible.