The hospitality at the Baikal Festival and the warm reception for the orchestra was outstanding! Getting in and out of Russia, on the other hand, is still a complicated process full of bureaucratic twists and turns: every instrument must be photographed for customs; for each player there is a 2 page customs form (in Russian) including a declaration on his instrument’s value; arrival and departure cards are filed at the airport; passports are collected at the hotel and finally, players traveling with their instrument in-hand go through lengthy identification checks.

After repeatedly delaying the flight while loading the plane, we made it to the waiting room at Irkutsk Airport for our 7 hour flight to Finland.

This tour sets an IPO record for age spread of the group: the oldest orchestra member is percussionist Eitan Shapiro who will reach 67 and retire on the last day of the tour (his birthday); the youngest is one-year-old Marta Yehudin, Evgeny and Polina’s daughter (Genia plays clarinet and Polina plays violin). (The Maestro, like the orchestra, is one year before his 80th!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.