Edmonton, Canada – Tuesday 7 November, 2000
Those who emerge from the comfort of their beds in time enjoy a hearty Canadian breakfast at the Sheraton; others emerge later in the day and make their own arrangements. The Hotel is connected by covered first-floor walkways to a shopping centre over the road; in fact most of the buildings in the CBD are connected both above and below ground level in this way, providing an indoor route to the major shopping and business areas, transport, and even to the Winspear Centre, our concert venue. Given that the temperature doesn’t rise to more than five below zero all day, this is a necessity and not just a convenience.
The rest of Edmonton appears to be a large mass of strip development; car yards, hardware stores, warehouses, fast food joints and above all car parks appear to stretch in every direction from almost the centre of town. This city may well have much to offer the visitor and the resident alike, but conservation of energy and lack of time mean that most of the party (myself included) are not going to discover the insider’s Edmonton.
Some people make their way to West Edmonton Mall, described as ‘ the world’s largest shopping and entertainment centre’ and come back with reports of roller coaster and other amusement park experiences. Personally, I settle for visiting the venue, checking the email and finding a laundromat to do a long-overdue load of washing. Peter and Julie make arrangements for checking and repairing one of the double basses and a violin that has been slightly damaged in transit (my offer to purchase a glue gun to effect repairs is politely declined).
The impressive Francis Winspear Centre for Music is the first purpose-built symphony venue we’ve played in the tour, is only three years old and was made possible by a very generous donation of $6 million from a local music lover. The venue staff and local music writers have been interested to hear that we have opened our new venue so recently, and there are inevitable discussions and comparisons. I won’t bore everyone with the details other than to report that the reflector panel above the stage looked like nothing so much as the Starship Enterprise, in a not so reduced scale model (see photograph). The venue has a web site (www.winspearcentre.com), so anyone who’s interested can have a look.
The Orchestra is in fine form for the performance, a credit to everyone’s resilience and calm attitude, given the exhausting journey we’ve just completed. We are looking forward to Vancouver, and to staying in the one place for a very decadent four nights.