Row 4 on the flight to Salzburg has been dubbed “the Library” – all three of us there are happily engrossed in a book. Well, in my case, it is partly a necessary distraction technique when I fly. The sky is not Jane’s comfort zone. It has been a long day – in fact starting already the previous day with an intense rehearsal. Back home to pack, and a new rehearsal only hours later. Lots of repertoire to get through. The irrepressible and ever cheerful maestro Juanjo Mena is in charge of the baton. Most conductors employ word imagery to get their desired point across, an image designed to give us that lightbulb moment “Oh…YES…you want it played in THAT way…aha…” Mena is one of the more inventive exponents of this technique – curiously it frequently involves farm animals. Once, we were encouraged to deliver our pizzicato notes with the resonance and inevitability of a cow pat being dropped. I like to think we delivered. Today there was again mention of cows – this time in a field watching a train go past. “I love you all,” pronounces the maestro. The affection is mutual.
The end of rehearsal today looked a bit like the Haydn Farewell Symphony – no sooner was one group of instruments done than they were whipped away to be packed down and loaded onto our waiting truck. Humans meanwhile were absorbed onto coaches bound for the airport. Today’s plane is a Czech charter. I hazard a guess that the seating was designed for size zero models. The crew is polite and attentive however, and we gently chill in our various ways. For the Library row, a glass of something cold to accompany the books goes down well. A tentative peek out the window reveals the lights of Austrian habitation. We are travelling into the heart of a Europe currently battling heavy loads of snow. Our instrument truck has quite a mission this time. For the rest of us, some much needed rest tonight and tomorrow, as we prepare to present three concerts to the discerning Salzburg audience.