ACO Musicians on Tour

Life on Tour

How long have you been a Tour Manager for?

I've been with the ACO for almost eight years now! Prior to this I was at Sydney Symphony in an orchestra management role so overall I have been working with and looking after orchestras for quite a long time. I started out doing the role of Assistant Tour Manager which meant smaller domestic tours to begin with - I was balancing a young family and two kids at the time. When I progressed into a full-time Tour Manager role I began doing bigger international tours as well.

Wow that must have been quite a change from touring Australia to taking the Orchestra overseas. How does an international tour compare with a national tour from your point of view?

The international tours are really different. You can forget how easy it is to tour domestically when you know the venues, the travel distances, the language, and everyone knows where they can get their coffee and food! I find that on a domestic tour there's a lot less interaction with the musicians about the logistics of the tour because they are so familiar with the cities and the venues know us so well. Internationally we generally don't know the venues closely, or the different crews we will be working with, and most importantly where the closest place to get good food is! All of that logistical stuff takes a lot of work and my head always feels a lot more full on an international tour.

Lisa Hero
Lisa Mullineux in New York with ACO Managing Director Richard Evans. Photo: Craig Paulson

I can only imagine! How much time goes into the preparation for an international tour ahead of the day you take off overseas?

Months to a year! Things like locking down flights and hotels happens about six months out as it's often hard to accommodate a big group and schedule flights that are at suitable times for the tour schedule. We get in touch with venues for performance logistics around 2-3 months prior to the concert date. On this most recent tour in the US I found it particularly easy to work with the crews across the tour- they were all so helpful, accommodating and the service they provided was outstanding. Being so well looked after in a foreign country makes my job really easy!


Was there a particularly challenging moment during the tour?

I guess overall it wasn't a hard tour but the hardest thing is always dealing with flight delays, which is quite common in the US. We ended up spending many hours sitting in airports waiting for flights to be rescheduled and it's always a challenge managing people's expectations during this time, especially when the flight delays mean we may risk being late to a concert!


On the flip side what would you say was the most rewarding part of the tour?

The most rewarding... well this might sound crazy and I don't know if all the people in this group would agree but I loved the road trip that four musicians and I took from Folsom to L.A. It was just really fun listening to all this silly music on the road! Because we were in Folsom we started with Johnny Cash, of course, and then kept it very US-based with a country/folk music selection and as we got closer into L.A there was a bit of a Disney movie theme and then hip-hop and rap whilst we were driving through the streets of L.A!

Ike See walking the streets of London
ACO Violinist Ike See during a visit to London in 2017. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Another pinch-yourself-this-is-real moment was being at the Lincoln Center in New York. The history of the place and performers who have been there is truly inspiring. Some venues you walk through and really get a sense of the amazing talents who have stepped into the building and performed on the stage - this was really obvious at the Lincoln Center. There was a moment when we were backstage before rehearsal and looking on the monitor I saw someone on the stage playing the piano that had been set up for our performance. At first all I could think was 'who is up there playing our piano?' only to realise soon after that it was Wynton Marsalis!


Did you have a favourite venue on the US tour?

Well I do love the venues that have great backstage access and good loading docks. However on this tour particularly there were so many beautiful halls and I think in this sense Jordan Hall in Boston was the most stunning. 

Artistic Director & Lead Violin Richard Tognetti ACO on stage at the New York, Lincoln Center
Richard Tognetti during the ACO's concert at the Lincoln Center. Photo: Stephanie Berger
Following our US tour in April we sat down with Lisa Mullineux to talk about touring life from a different perspective - the life of the ACO Tour Manager. From Wollongong to New York, Lisa has travelled far and wide with the Orchestra and has many memorable moments from her journeys on the road.

So if there was anywhere in the world that you could tour with the ACO where would it be?

That's a hard question! We always go to great places and I'm always very grateful to travel so extensively through my work. I think it would be amazing to tour more of the Scandinavian countries especially during the summer time to experience the white nights. There's so much great music in that part of the world as well that would be fantastic to hear.


Sounds like a dream! What is coming up next for you and the ACO this year?

We have the Barbican residency in London later this year and then domestically a number of exciting national tours. I'm looking forward to Indies & Idols as it's just the ACO without any additional augmentation - it's always really special seeing the core group perform together.

We have the Barbican residency in London later this year and then domestically a number of exciting national tours. I'm looking forward to Indies & Idols as it's just the ACO without any additional augmentation - it's always really special seeing the core group perform together.


If you were to cast your mind back over all the tours you have done, what is the most memorable?

Favourite in terms of location was Gstaad's Menuhin Festival in 2016. We were there for a week prior to a European tour and the location was incredible - climbing mountains in the day and concerts in the night! I think my favourite in terms of program was Gallipoli in 2015. That was such a beautiful program and amazing imagery and it felt like we were working on something that was really important. It stayed with everyone for a long time.