When the MO goes on tour we generally gather downstairs at MSP airport and get checked in as a group. In this case, we were separated into three separate flights although I don’t know why that was the case. Sometimes you just can’t find a single plane that has the space to carry all hundred plus musicians/staff, so, you have to split us all up to get us there. Enter the Evil Entity, Glitch.
There was a group that left early on Monday. They were fine. Then there were the two remaining groups slated to leave around 1:30 and 3:10. I was on the 3:10 flight. By this time the snow was falling to the point of being a white-out condition. Planes are starting to be diverted away from the Twin Cities and pilots were scrambling along with Air Traffic Control trying to figure out how or IF people would be able to get outta Dodge. The 1:30 group got as far as the backing out of the gate only to find the damned plane wouldn’t move out to the runway. So, musicians had to go down to walk on the tarmac to get back to the gate. Meanwhile, the final group (mine) were being informed that our flight had gone from postponed to cancelled. Glitch had been satisfied.
Everyone is scratching their heads wondering what the next step would be. Eventually, the orchestra scrambled further to organize buses back to Orchestra Hall where you would be on your own to get back home, braving the standstill traffic. No one, including the management, knew when our next flights to Bloomington, IN. would be. It would be the next day, that was for sure.
My decision was to find a nearby hotel rather than do the double schlepp to and from home in the kind of snow that eats cars. So, I spent a quiet night at a nearby Super 8 motel with the knowledge that I was only ten minutes from the airport should we have to reconvene for a possible 6am flight. As it happened, the flights that would eventually carry the rest of the orchestra were, once again, at 1:30 and 3:10pm. That gave me a chance to do some playing that morning with a mute that would limit complaints from other residents.
That bit of practice would be a crucial decision because the revised schedule would be such that those arriving on my flight would disembark, get on a bus to Bloomington, walk into the hall, change, warm up and play a concert at 8pm. Dinner? Nope but there were some good snacks available to boost energy. While I didn’t have dinner I was fine because the other decision I made was to have a substantial lunch that would carry me just fine through the concert. Wind players prefer to fly light so that we can breathe more easily .
We walked on stage, tuned, and got right to it. The last time we saw the opening number was last week. The opportunity to rehearse evaporated as the originally-scheduled 1pm rehearsal was now a horse that left the barn. The performance of the Sibelius tone poem, En Saga, was filled with “Oh, right… that’s how that goes…..” and “Oh, yeah, that’s faster than I remember.” No matter. Professional musicians know that being over-prepared is what gets you through moments of “What the heck….?” Playing Tchaikovsky and Beethoven was like going for a drink with old friends.
After the concert, the comforts of home were replaced with the comfort of a clean hotel room and not a moment too soon. We had lost an hour by travel one time zone over. I was anxious to sleep because I had a terrific appointment to look forward to the next morning.