The snow is causing all sorts of disruption. On Friday I went into town to meet someone who didn’t arrive because his flight from Austria was cancelled. On Saturday morning, I was supposed to be coaching a young German group, but their violinist was stuck in Germany because of the snow. They kept me informed of his progress, which meant abandoning his air ticket and switching to the train, and finally they turned up for their session at 8.15pm. By which time the poor things were dazed, frozen and exhausted.
We were talking about the economics of travelling on the day of a concert. In the past, because of various nail-biting delays, my colleagues decided we must never take the risk of travelling to a faraway concert on the day itself. We must always make sure we’re there by the evening before, so that we wake up in the right city on concert day.
But this has knock-on effects. Often musicians have to pay for accommodation and travel out of the fee. If we travel out the day before, we have to pay another night in a hotel. Added to the plane fares and the cost of staying in a hotel after the concert, this sometimes makes it uneconomic to do the concert at all. The margins aren’t big. Several plane fares, plus an extra one for the cello, then taxis into the city, and two nights in a hotel for several people – it all adds up. And so we often tied ourselves in knots about the cost of ‘being responsible to the audience’. Was it our duty to go on the day before, or not?
Yet of course what sticks in my mind are the occasions when we decided to fly out on the morning of a winter concert, had our flights cancelled, couldn’t get there by any other method, and eventually had to call (perhaps from a phone box) and break the news that we wouldn’t be there at all. Followed by losing the fee, of course. These memories come vividly to mind when snow suddenly stops play.