Tuscan Landscapes

As the August tour forges on, AF musicians take in the beautiful scenery of San Quirico d’Orcia as they rehearse this week. Telemann and Bach will be the featured composers on Friday’s concert at the Church of Santo Stefano in Cennano Castelmuzio (built in 1285 AD!) as part of the Festival Paesaggi Musicali Toscani.

Home stretch – Final 3 Sugarloaf Concerts!

The Sugarloaf troupe had a busy few days with 3 consecutive concerts in Derry and Ballymena (Northern Ireland) and Wexford (Ireland), which required over 7 hours of bus travel! Despite the grueling schedule, Sugarloaf Mountain still captivated audiences with its warmth and fiery spirit. One patron noted “Thanks to Apollo’s Fire for brightening up a dull cloudy evening in Wexford.”

The next stage of the tour involves the group splitting off in multiple directions. Several musicians are on their way home to Cleveland today, while others go onto the next stop in Tuscany for a performance at the Paesaggi Musicali Toscani (Tuscan Landscapes Festival). The next time the Sugarloaf troupe will reunite is in Cleveland for Christmas On Sugarloaf Mountain concerts in December!

Sunday – AF at the National Opera House

We had an extremely fun and successful concert at the Irish National Opera House in Wexford! Getting there was tough – a 3-hr drive from Northern Ireland during the middle of the night, following our Saturday night concert in Ballymena. But it was worth it!
This is known as the finest small opera house in the world, and we agree! Excellent acoustics and a wonderful and enthusiastic audience. An immediate standing ovation at the end of the concert. And… they already invited us to return! Afterwards, we gathered at a nearby pub for a “Parting Glass” – sad farewells at the end of a very special tour.

Free Day in Belfast!

Sugarloaf Mountain UK/Ireland tour is half way done – 3 concerts down and 3 more to go! After several busy consecutive days of concerts and travel, the company has a well-deserved day off. Several members of the group ventured out on their own to see the sights of Northern Ireland (including the Giant’s Causeway!) while others stayed back in Belfast to tend to more practical items like laundry and catching up on emails.

Performing at Belfast Castle

Following a 2.5-hr drive from Dublin to Belfast, we had a Gala concert and dinner at the amazing Belfast Castle. The concert was filmed by a major production company for use in a future promotional program for Tourism Ireland.
It was also a live radio broadcast carried by the Associated Press of Europe, meaning that various stations across Europe were broadcasting parts of it at various times, whenever they had a gap to fill between news reports etc. (No pressure!). So in Berlin they may have heard Wayfaring Stranger, whereas in Paris they may have heard Glory in the Meeting House….
The Castle is amazing and would be so much fun to play Hide-and-Seek in! At dinner we sat with the patrons, who were donors and dignitaries of Northern Ireland, and people from the BBC. All of them were so warm and friendly, as is everyone we’ve met in Ireland.
The first photo is the charming pub across the street from our lovely hotel. The 2nd is the entrance to our hotel.
The rest are behind-the-scenes photos of Belfast Castle.

Dublin and an update on our missing luggage!

Some of our Sugarloaf aficionados might have noticed in the photos of our Aldeburgh concert on our Facebook page that Amanda was not wearing her usual costume. She actually had to borrow a dress from our flutist, Kathie Stewart, because Amanda’s luggage was still missing. Thankfully, Amanda’s luggage has been found in Dublin!
The story goes that the airline was to deliver Amanda’s bag to the hotel in Dublin. However, at the Dublin airport, Tina went to look for her dulcimer in the large bag area, when she noticed a familiar bag….Amanda’s at the Dublin airport. EXCEPT they tagged it with the name “Tina Bergmann.” But the luck of the Irish had it that Tina noticed Amanda’s bag (which apparently must have had quite a tumble with a gorilla and got badly smashed). If it were not for that, that bag would still be looking for a Tina and not an Amanda.
All is well now, and Amanda celebrated by enjoying some Cottage Pie at a local pub. We look forward to playing for another fantastic audience in Dublin!

Travel Day: Ipswich (UK) -> Dublin

Susanna Perry Gilmore (violin) and Tina Bergmann, (hammered dulcimer) exploring the charming streets of Ipswich

After a stressful start to the tour because of the lost luggage and costumes, the first performance in Aldeburgh was a great success! We thoroughly enjoyed playing to a wonderful and enthusiastic full hall.
A short 90-minute flight will now take us to Dublin for a performance at the National Concert Hall!

We have arrived in London!

SATURDAY. Arrived in London, minus the luggage of Amanda, Tina, and Ian. Their costumes were in their luggage. Will the bags arrive in time for tomorrow’s FILMED performance at the Aldeburgh Festival?
After a 3-hr drive to Ipswich (near Aldeburgh) where the group is staying, the tired group takes a much-needed nap while Jeannette and our British tour manager Vicky Shilling go shopping to look for dresses and vintage boots for Amanda and Tina.
Jeannette to shopkeepers: Excuse me, I wondered if you have any lace Boho dresses with asymmetrical handkerchief skirts? Like this picture…? (Shows photo of Sugarloaf troupe)
Shopkeeper: Nice photo! Are you all on tour?
Vicky: Yes, they’re from America and they’re playing at the Aldeburgh Festival tomorrow. But some of the luggage did not arrive…
Shopkeeper: Ah, I’m so sorry but that dress is rather a summer style. We’ve already got our autumn clothing in. I hope your bags arrive!
On to 6 more shops, with similar results… at least it’s a nice way of wandering the streets of Ipswich.

Travel Day, Cleveland -> London!

Local send-off concert and reception in Bath, OH.

Following two fabulous performances and send-off receptions in Cleveland and Bath, the orchestra has packed their bags (not to mention their microphones, music, instruments, concert dress, extra strings, and props) to fly to London. Ten musicians, our incredible Production Manager Tom Frattare, and our General Manager Noha Ryder will take a combined total of seven different flights. All of these flights were meticulously scheduled and booked by our own Director of Touring, Allison Richards.

Curious about how to you get a cello from Cleveland to the UK? It actually has its own seat on the plane next to our esteemed principal cellist René Schiffer, who will secure it using a seat belt extension. We are waiting to see if the cello will get its own meal on the plane and will report back!

But there will be no time to rest when they arrive, because they will all board a bus first thing in the morning to Ipswich in preparation for our first performance at the Aldeburgh Festival.

Next stop, London!

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)