27,000 pounds of gear
January 30, 2020 11:46 AM   Subscribe

In 2017, The Boston Symphony Orchestra toured Japan. WBUR reporter Andrea Shea embedded with the group to report on the effort involved in moving over 100 people and their gear across the globe, including how to move 27,000 pounds of gear, how to handle performer wellness, and what happens while on tour (start at the bottom, mixed text and audio entries). posted by backseatpilot (8 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
They just canceled their tour of East Asia due to the virus, sigh.
posted by Melismata at 1:13 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


“We travel with about 27,000 pounds of gear... the valuation of which is somewhere around $20 million.”

Didn’t see anything about insurance, but I bet that’s expensive and complicated!

Also (as with any tour) what happens to money and tickets when shows are canceled. Might be insurance there too.

That’s about $741/lb; not too bad really?
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:32 PM on January 30


270 pounds of gear per performer is a hell of lot more than I would have guessed. I would want to see a breakdown of that. Obviously they're counting the weight of all the road cases, but are they also counting the trucks? Maybe even the humans?

I used to perform with a taiko drumming group. I would estimate we had about 80 pounds of instruments/cases/stands/accessories/costumes per performer. But only the oodaiko had a hard case (probably 300-350 pounds for the drum, its case and stand) and everything else was in padded nylon bags. We relied heavily (so to speak) on not dropping our 60-pound chu-daiko while transporting them.
posted by Foosnark at 4:30 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


270 pounds of gear per performer is a hell of lot more than I would have guessed.

The cases do add a whole lot of weight:
Assistant principal bassist Lawrence Wolfe stood next to his looming double bass case.

“I'm 6-foot-4 and this case is easily 7 feet tall, and about 3 feet deep, and about 2 1/2 feet wide,” he described, “And I'm in a room full of these cases and all of these cases are the size of coffins.”
For percussion, it's even more extensive--as heavy as a set of 8 (!) timpani are, their weight is probably tripled when they're in cases. I expect the other percussion instruments & cases add significant poundage to that total, too (vibes, marimba, chimes, tam tams, so on). Also, if they're traveling with a harp or two, I can see how it would get to that total. They also have wardrobe trunks for all concert attire, separate from everyone's personal luggage.

I've managed large instrumental ensemble tours myself, it is a massive and detailed undertaking, even when it's a bunch of college kids and not a major professional symphony orchestra.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:37 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Also (as with any tour) what happens to money and tickets when shows are canceled. Might be insurance there too.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the BSO did not have insurance for their called-off Asian tour.
Tours are hugely expensive undertakings for large symphony orchestras, and the Boston Symphony, which does not carry insurance for tour concert interruptions, will now begin discussions about costs with various vendors — including for its flights, cargo, and hotels — as well as with the concert presenters.
posted by Jahaza at 9:10 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking about the danger all those instruments are in. I know some of these fiddles most cost six figures and maybe more. Makes you wonder why they even do it.
posted by charlesminus at 9:21 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


270 pounds of gear per performer is a hell of lot more than I would have guessed. I would want to see a breakdown of that. Obviously they're counting the weight of all the road cases, but are they also counting the trucks? Maybe even the humans?

Depends how many fugitives you're smuggling out of the country.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:26 AM on January 31


I would be on tenderhooks if I had the responsibility of moving and protecting all of those precious pieces. The musicians become "bonded" to their personal instrument and a replacement just isn't the same.
posted by mightshould at 2:57 AM on February 1


« Older Making a Seat at the Table   |   They created a goose for your desktop. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments