Well, sort of.
I leave for Southampton in two days, on the 8th, with a 1:30 PM EDT flight out of Burlington, VT, landing at JFK in New York City at 2:59 PM EDT. I have a four hour layover and leave at 7:30 PM EDT, arriving at Heathrow in London at 7:50 AM BST (2:50 AM EDT, 7h 20m in the air).
Here’s how it works…. Once I land, I pick up the hotel’s shared shuttle (aptly named Hoppa Bus) and am whisked away about 4 kilometers/2.2 miles to the Premier Inn. I’ll be torn between exploring London and sleeping – with a 25 kilometer/15 mile trip back to London, I may pass. I stay at the hotel overnight, go to breakfast with my luggage at 5:45 AM, and board the City Circle Coach bound for Southampton and the Queen Mary 2 at 6:20 AM. It’s about a 115 kilometer/70 mile/90 minute trip to the cruise terminal in Southampton. Once there, I’ll need to fill out immigration and other paperwork, surrender my passport, attend mandatory training/orientation sessions (inductions, there are 3, which I must stay wide awake for), and grab a shower (if I’m lucky). I can expect a 4 or 5 PM rehearsal of probably 90 minutes in length (the singers, dancers, and band members will likely be new to the ship and possibly new to the show itself), which will likely be the Welcome Aboard Show (WABS, fondly) package with our Royal Court Theatre Orchestra, and Cunard singers and dancers. Should the Roland keyboard still have my patches programmed into memory, I’ll have time for dinner. The 45 minute sets will likely be at 8:30 PM and 10:45 PM.
So, that’s how it works. If it sounds hectic, that’s because it can be. I’ll have the bonus of nearly a full day at the hotel to right my (so-called)sleep pattern.
My first 9 days will be a run-out from Southampton to Hamburg, Elsinore, and Oslo, and back to Hamburg and Southampton. I’ll want to buy snacks in Hamburg – with the exchange rate, Denmark and Norway are expensive. Hamburg is going through a heat wave – it will likely be in the mid 90s F/mid 30s C – and perhaps rather, well, hot. I’ll want to disembark at every port, as our Trans-Atlantic service between Southampton and New York City runs the first five weeks – in port every 7 days, crossing 5 time zones each way (25 hour days to the west, 23 to the east). From the third run to New York City, I’ll spend two weeks in the Canadian Maritime provinces before returning to Southampton. I then hop into a car to drive me from the Queen Mary 2 to the Queen Elizabeth. After two months on the Mary, my month on the Liz (affectionately) will take me to Spain, Italy, Croatia, Gibraltar, and the Canary Islands. My detailed itinerary is at http://ginsumusic.com/performances.htm .
I’ll do my best to put my laptop to use and type mostly-daily updates.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of playing piano-organ duets with my friend Stan Wicks, in from San Diego. Dr. Wicks is the Director of Worship Music and the Arts at the First United Methodist Church of San Diego. We last played together as baritone horns in the school band in 1975 (along with Kevin Madsen and David Lamos). I had a blast.
Today will be my last Monday evening concert with the Glens Falls City Band’s Jazz Ensemble. I always look forward to playing with Dennis Searles’s group – it’s a fun bit of studio reading, making music on the fly (“How long have we been playing together?” “What time is it now?”) Then it’s off to get Yolanda to work, and to start rudimentary house cleaning, and packing (anybody want to buy a house or two?)
I had a great time having lunch with my dear friend and again-neighbor Dave Hoffis. Dave was the sound engineer for Saturday, August 4’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone multimedia concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. I was privileged to be a guest for rehearsal and to attend the concert with Yolanda. Harry Potter may have been the wizard on the screen, but Dave is the wizard that makes an orchestra sound its best. I’ve heard the Philadelphia on many occasions – this is the best sound that I’ve ever heard. Without going into too much detail, he promotes the important sounds so that they glisten, minimizes players’ errors and microphone issues, all while balancing the live orchestra and recorded movie dialogue against patron sound and the raging river (no babbling brook that day). He is simply the best in the business, an unsung, uncredited hero – an amazing master accompanist who continually buffs and saves his performers.
I continue to work through the legal maze with my mother’s passing. Should be interesting from the ship.
Enjoying my large iced Red Eye at SPoT Coffee in Glens Falls, around the corner from where the band plays at City Park. But now I need to get dressed and set up (they have kindly allowed me to use a bathroom to make a quick change).
The adventure continues.