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International Orchestra Tours: Tips and Logistics

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Heidi Lukas, Director of Operations, Chicago Symphony Orchestra summed it up when she said, "It really makes all the sweat and tears worth it." And, as you may already know or, can imagine, there is an enormous amount of detailed project planning and preparation to undertake for an international tour.

Alan Scillitoe, Director of the Sports and Entertainment division at Agility Logistics has some key points regarding the nuts and bolts logistics of planning once you have decided to move ahead. In 1994, Alan conceived of and developed this division of Agility to fulfill his clients' need to safely move specialty cargo long distances on short timelines. Alan has been a key player in many successful international tours. His unique, hands on approach brings a great deal of practical expertise to the table.


Some critical planning tips for orchestras are:

  • Everything on the cargo list must travel as cargo for the full tour
  • Make no assumptions that a previous tours' procedures or timelines are still workable
  • Do not sit on information
  • Be precise with instrument case measurements
  • Beware presenters' offers for their own cargo companies to handle their portion of the tour

As important as these points are for those who have not toured before, they are also an essential reminder to those who already have. We understand how cumbersome and overwhelming tours are because they require a lot of moving parts for people AND equipment. They take time to plan and execute and now is a good time to consider your options moving forward.


Some of the things you will have to execute and plan for are:

  • Mapping out an itinerary that works
  • Applying for CITES permits which can take weeks, even months to receive
  • Managing time
  • You are moving 100s of people (for many tours this includes musicians, guests, administrative staff, stagehands, security, photographer, perhaps a doctor, patrons)
  • You are moving 100s of pieces of cargo weighing tons, which may include wardrobe trunks, instruments large and small, stools, chairs, bassoon stands and dollies
  • You have many expenses: transportation, accommodations, salaries, fees
  • There are risks to musicians and instruments - travel fatigue, jet lag, illness, damage, loss

Vanessa Moss, Vice President of Operations, Chicago Symphony Orchestra really summed it up when she said, "It's like moving a small city."

The human spirit has risen to the occasion and is figuring out how to LEARN through this pandemic and safely return to normalcy over time. We can assist in preparing for the inevitable rebound of your touring schedules every step of the way and strongly believe continuing to tour internationally is critical to your profitability, despite the challenges. Let's work together. If you are interested in a consultation on how to approach a tour for your orchestra, please contact Monika Jadeszko who will be happy to offer expert advice on how to begin planning.