The Israel Philharmonic is the world’s busiest touring orchestra, and this summer it opened a new front; Siberia. Irkutsk deep in Siberia was first stop on the summer tour to the Baltic Countries, Finland, Lithuania and Estonia; and Eastern Europe, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Irkutsk is eight hours flying time and 6 time zones East of Tel Aviv. The charter flight was scheduled to leave at 10:00 but was delayed; our instruments just didn’t fit in the hold! With the help of stage managers Yakov and Amit, orchestra trunks were unpacked and the contents piled in the back rows of the airplane; suitcases, garment bags and stools for the bass players took up 10 rows. The empty trunks were sent ahead to Finland to await our arrival.

Near Moscow we refueled, then continued 4 hours to Siberia. In 5 C. cold and rain we arrived at 4:00, spent hours in Russian immigration, sorted out garment bags, shoes and suitcases and had breakfast at the hotel at 8:00. Most spent the day in bed, but the bravest went to see Lake Baikal.

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