Raising a baby, as everyone knows, is an incredibly rewarding and intensely challenging experience. The same is true of having a performing career, and even more so of doing the two things simultaneously. It helps, of course, to have a supportive spouse who is willing to watch the baby while you’re out performing, but what happens when your spouse is also a performer? And what about when you’re both performing on the same tour? We were determined to find out.
As of Day 7, our eighteen-month-old daughter, Eleri, is shaping up to be quite the little road warrior. In her short time on the road, she has achieved a lot of ‘firsts’: first hotel room, first room service, first bus ride, first taxi ride, and first snow, not to mention acquiring her thirteenth tooth. Her parents have acquired a host of new skills, such as packing, unpacking, and repacking eleven pieces of luggage (baby included), and using a car seat on a tour bus with no seat belts (credit goes to Uncle Tony, the orchestra’s bass playing EMT, for figuring that one out). Eleri has also started to learn the names of several tour buddies, including Nadja (“Dja-dja”), Lynn (“Nynn”), Parker (“Parker”), Mike (“Mike”), Joanne (“Jen”), Tony (“Tinny”), and her personal fave, Everett (“Everett! Everett!!”).
The bottom line, however, is that caring for a baby is a full-time job, and to add performing into the mix simply calls for extra manpower. Knowing this, we were fortunate to be able convince Evan’s mother, Peg, to climb aboard the tour bus and perform grandmotherly duties as needed for Week 1 of our trip. (Eleri being her first and only grandchild, it didn’t take much convincing.) “Marni”, as she is known to the little one, will leave us on Tuesday and be replaced by Eleri’s nanny, “Sa-sa” (Sarah), who will meet the little princess and her entourage in Los Angeles. (How many monarchs throughout history, one wonders, have had enough style to travel with their own orchestras?)
When it comes to the job of actually playing concerts, the two of us feel like we’re being rewarded for the hard work of traveling with a night off to go and play. This feeling is common to the touring life—I always feel that performing is a perk of the job—but add to it the intense concentration that is required to chase a toddler and we may have discovered the ultimate performance ‘zone’. Spending the first eight hours of the day preventing falls, wiping tears, cleaning up messes, and generally keeping the child safe and happy has turned out to be an elaborate warm-up exercise for our ability to focus. After that, playing with even the most sensitive and demanding of ensembles is comparatively simple!
All in all, this experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to the artistry, the wonderful camaraderie, and the support of the orchestra members, as well as the care taken on our behalf by our tour management team of Everett and Kay, we feel very welcome. And we especially appreciate Nadja, our enthusiastic and ever-inspiring musical director, who made it her mission that we should be able to participate in these concerts. If the success of this tour is any indication, we look forward to many more to come!
-Evan and Deborah Price