Continuous Travelling

Or, the challenges of flying with a harp, an archlute and a viola da gamba. Written by Rosemary

Poeticall Musicke prides itself on its distinctive continuo section of harpsichord, harp, gamba and lute; and indeed they make a lovely sound, both together and in different combinations. However, it makes for an interesting time when flying with all these instruments (minus the harpsichord, thankfully!). A group of 8 of us – 5 people and 3 ‘cellos’ – were booked on easyJet’s early morning flight from Stansted to Cagliari, Sardinia, last Tuesday. One good thing about travelling with such large instruments is the immediate publicity (Alex joked about selling advertising space on the side of his lute case) – we managed to attract some audience members while queuing at the gate. Other perks included being sent through the fast track security lane, and being moved up the boarding queue. But every step of the way we were hindered by exchanges along the lines of ‘You can’t take that on board with you’ – ‘But I’ve bought a seat for it’ – ‘Oh, well, it won’t fit through the X-ray scanner…’ etc.

The rewards were worth the adventures of the journey. When we arrived in Cagliari we were met by Giuliana, the organiser of the Echi Lontani festival, and driven to our hotel, literally right on the beach (see picture – sadly, after day 1 the weather became rather overcast and rainy, but we did manage to go swimming).

Our concert on Wednesday was in the Chiesa Santa Maria del Monte – originally built by the Knights Templar and now deconsecrated. We had the luxury of a 3 hour rehearsal the day before the concert, as well as a couple of hours on the day. This gave the instruments time to settle in to the new climate, allowed us time to decide on a stage set-up to best suit the venue, and a chance to run the programme in its entirety, notwithstanding many tuning breaks for the poor strings, which were suffering somewhat in the humidity. Leaving the instruments in the church overnight helped them settle, and by the time the concert came round the tuning problems of the day before had disappeared. I was a little nervous of singing a programme of Monteverdi and Caccini to a large audience of Italians, but we did ourselves proud and were very well received.

Aside from rehearsing and performing, I think it’s fair to say we spent most of our time eating the most wonderful food – gnocchi, perfectly cooked pasta, pizza, and some of the best fish any of us had tasted. The Sardinians know how to eat well! We’re delighted with the success of our first concert out of the UK, and look forward to many more to come. (Once we can afford a private jet, we’ll be taking the spinnet…)