It was truly a shock to arrive in Las Palmas where the temperature differential from Chicago is so much I dare not even think about it. But let’s just say that to have the hotel window open and a soft, warm breeze blowing was a great joy. After three rehearsals in the concert hall here, we had our first concert — the opening of the festival — last night. This concert hall is on the water facing the Atlantic Ocean, and the remarkable feature is that the back wall of the stage is a massive window (or rather many panels of glass) looking out over a reflecting pool and onto the the ocean. There is a wall that can come down to cover the glass but Maestro Muti chose to leave it up for rehearsals and the concert. You have no idea how spectacular it is to look out over the ocean during the day and then to have the reflection of the orchestra and the audience in the glass that has the dark sky and ocean behind it in the evening.
The only distraction from the view is the primary activity of the hall of course, the concert! A first tour concert is always special and in this case, at our first concert ever in Las Palmas at this important festival and our first concert of the new year, it was especially so. The program included the Macbeth ballet music of Verdi, Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet suite after intermission. The orchestra was truly “on fire” and it was an evening of great joy and momentous pride for those of us in the audience, including 14 patrons from Chicago, to share this remarkable ensemble with the festival audience. It was a sold-out audience including lots of important political, as well as arts, leaders and European press. Best of all, I had a very special evening reconnecting with our great orchestra after several weeks away from them over the Christmas holiday.
A great start to the tour!
President, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association