BSO tour is on

October 24, 2001|By Tim Smith

After Sept. 11, members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra took a hard look at their three-week European visit scheduled to begin Nov. 19. Should the musicians risk traveling abroad during the war on terrorism and its potential backlash against Americans?

Yesterday, with only two musicians choosing to stay home, the BSO reconfirmed that the 12-city, $2 million tour is on.

"We had a series of meetings where we put out on the table all of our post-Sept. 11 concerns," says Jeffrey Stewart, chairman of the BSO players committee.

"We talked to a security expert who answered many of our specific questions, and tried to gather as much information as we could. In the end, the musicians decided we have something valuable to do and we want to do it."

One major change is expected -- efforts are under way to secure charter flights to and from Europe, instead of commercial ones.

"That would alleviate some of the concerns people have about traveling," Stewart says. "We already were planning to use charter flights within Europe."

The BSO has not been alone in facing travel concerns. The Minnesota Orchestra canceled a tour of Japan scheduled for next month, but the Detroit Symphony Orchestra voted to proceed with an 18-day European tour that began Oct. 4 and met with considerable success.

"The musicians really had the major role in deciding on the tour," says BSO president John Gidwitz. "They had to struggle with all the issues; you could read that on their faces. I feel quite moved that they decided overwhelmingly to go."

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