'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wife of a Musician - Part 2 - Travel

As Robin is on the Queen Victoria, somewhere between Costa Rica and Mexico, it seems appropriate to look at travel, because all musicians have to do it.

Robin's office is his music room, but, every time he goes out to work, long distances are involved.
In the early days, if he was performing in the UK, he would drive to the concert, give his performance, socialise with the organisers and guests, then drive home again, no matter how far, or how late he would arrive back.
But this is hugely impractical, exhausting, and a pace of life that can't be continued.
Now we have a 3 hour rule.
Any venue, more than 2 1/2 to 3 hours drive away, he stays over night, and returns refreshed the next day.

But frequently musicians don't only play in their home country, but, anywhere around the world.
Most people think it's a fantastic and glamorous way of life and in some ways it is.
However, if it's a two week tour somewhere, the musicians generally only see airports, hotels and venues, as they constantly move from city to city.
If they are lucky, they may get a day off at some point, and will then make the most of it.

I know how hard it is as I often travelled with the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo.
Yes you get a feel for the country you are in, and hosts are very kind, usually entertain you, and show you a few historical sites. But on the whole, the same applies, airport, hotel, venue, hotel, airport.
I was lucky, as I would usually get an hour or so to look around, before the concert, whilst the duo prepared.
By morning, you pack up and move on.

Sometimes they would have midday concerts, or masterclasses, and then travel onto the next town in time for an evening recital.
So it is hard work.

But the travelling Robin is doing at the moment is different again.
He still has the long haul flights, but as he often performs on various incredible cruise ships, he gets to unpack, and his room becomes home, for the main part of the trip.
Depending on how his concerts fall within the trip, he will get to see more of the countries he visits.
But if they dock at a beautiful island somewhere and his concert is the next day, he really will only allow himself a short visit, as for him, the priority is, and always will be, giving the best performance he can.
But, as on this current trip, sometimes he's lucky.
He has performed his last concert and still has a few countries to visit, so will go ashore and make the most of it.

It's hard though. Can you imaging seeing some incredible place, but the very people you would love to share the experience with, are not there.
One memorable trip to Venice resulted in a huge 'phone bill as Robin took in all the beautiful buildings and relayed the scenes to me on the other end of the 'phone.

As the wife of a musician you have to accept that they will be away from home, and sometimes for quite long periods.
So often you hear of musicians relationships failing because of these separations.
But I knew about Robin's travelling when we married, and have accepted it as part of our way of life.
Luckily, I have always been the sort of person that has plenty of things to do, and keep myself very busy. In fact, when Robin is away my work load obviously increases, so I often find I have too little time to achieve all I need!

That doesn't mean it's easy, you just learn how to cope with it.
It is hard at times and particularly for the children.
They miss him very much, but are also accepting of the situation and, for them, it's normal.
We have all learnt to make the most of the times when Robin is home, and in some ways, are all happier for it.
Musicians have to play, not just to earn a living, but also because it is a basic need.
Without his music he wouldn't be the man I married, simple as that.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna (and Robin),
What a fantastic insight to a travelling musician. I guess it must be mentioned that it is tough (on both the performer and the partner), but it's still something I wouldn't mind doing. But perhaps that's because I would enjoy the performing as much as visiting different countries.

Anyway, is back up, and I'll be hopping back on the regular blogging horse from Monday. Expect this post to be linked around Thursday :)

Anna said...

Hi Ben,
Thanks for the comment. Yes, it is tough on both the performer and the family, but, it is also an incredible experience.
The concerts in these settings are always high pressure ones, not only due to the large audiences, but also because you continue to live amongst them after the event! There's no hiding place!
But performing is Robin's greatest love, and he is happiest when out there giving concerts.
Seeing all the different countries is an added bonus.
The down side will always be missing his family. To be away for a couple of weeks, home for a week or so, then off again, is pretty tough, when it happens so regularly. But we know how lucky he is and are grateful that audiences are obviously enjoying it otherwise he wouldn't be rebooked!
Thankfully we can email whilst on board ship so he keeps up to date with home life.
Glad to hear that will be up and running again next week. I'll be checking in!