Moscow Tour Report- Part 2: The Untold Story of the Cargo’s Journey

Musicians in front of St. Basil's Cathedral

Symphony Musicians and travel companions in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow

Often, when we see a performance by an ensemble from abroad, we think of how far the musicians have traveled to be there, and what that must be like. But sometimes we don’t realize just how big of an undertaking it is to transport an entire orchestra -and their instruments- to another continent. Below, Violinist Alexandra Adkins describes the untold story of the cargo’s journey.

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The Cargo’s Journey
By: Alexandra Adkins

Musicians in Moscow

Musicians in Moscow. From l-r: Mark Griffith- Percussion, Meredith Nelson-Huffman, Brian Del Signore- Principal Percussion, Matthew Strauss- Percussion, and Terry McKinney

Our orchestra on tour is accompanied by lots of cargo; instrument shipping trunks, wardrobe trunks, special chairs and so on. The musicians were fortunate to head to Moscow Tuesday on a 12 hour nonstop flight, but our cargo had a more extensive journey. According to stage manager Donald Ray Jackson, it is a four day process that began immediately following the Ima Hogg performance on June 2nd. The symphony truck was loaded up that night and headed for IAH, where Sunday morning he and assistant stage manager Kelly Morgan began building seven container pallets from the various instrument and wardrobe trunks. It is a complicated puzzle to make the pallets the size that will fit in the cargo hold of a passenger plane. Every piece is X- rayed before loading. Donald Ray and Kelly travel with our shipment every step of the way. Our cargo arrived Monday afternoon in London, where it was offloaded and transferred to a climate controlled warehouse until the Moscow flight Tuesday morning. Due to a size issue with one of our containers, some of our cargo was delayed, thus everything did not arrive in Moscow until 3:00 AM Wednesday morning. Clearing Russian customs, disassembling the pallets and loading up trucks for transport to Moscow’s Hall of Columns took the next 18 hours, and finally at 11:30 PM Wednesday night our four very sleep deprived Houston stage crew members began the two hour load in to the hall– assisted by Russian crew– so that our instruments would be available for individual practice on Thursday morning. Donald Ray and Kelly are now catching up on their ZZZ’s in the subway, on the bus, and anywhere else they can find a quiet corner!

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