Oct 8 - 21, 2018
14 days
$10,350per person, twin share (land content only). $2,200 supplement for sole use of a hotel room

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
Oct 8 - 21, 2018

Tour Leader

Robert Gay$10,350per person, twin share (land content only). $2,200 supplement for sole use of a hotel room
  • Tour Info
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions


This tour takes you to three of the leading music-making centres of the United States, each with a longstanding tradition of innovative productions and superlative performances. Chicago and Philadelphia have fine symphony orchestras, while the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall are two of the most storied venues in music history – all will be featured in the itinerary. The tour is timed to coincide with the opening of the 2018-19 season, with details becoming available progressively from March 2018. The musical program will be augmented by visits to galleries and walking tours surveying history and architecture.


  • Eight performances – three operas, four concerts and a stage play
  • Insightful pre-performance talks to expand your musical knowledge and help you get the most out of performances
  • Exclusive events such as a private visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and private dining in highly regarded restaurants
  • Long stays in major cities, with time for relaxing and for individual sightseeing
  • The company of like-minded music lovers



The itinerary will be updated as performing arts organisations release details of their 2018-19 season.


  • A play at the Steppenwolf Theater, one of the USA’s leading theatre companies
  • An orchestral performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, America’s finest ensemble
  • An opera at the Chicago Lyric Opera, known for its excellent singers and productions


  • A concert by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, one of the USA’s first orchestras

New York

  • Two operas at the Metropolitan Opera, selected from their 2018-19 season
  • A concert at Carnegie Hall by a visiting international orchestra
  • A concert by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–5: In Chicago for five nights, we attend performances and visit the wonderful Art Institute. Go on walking tours of Chicago’s renowned modern architecture and visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.

Days 6–7: Fly to Philadelphia for a performance and tour the excellent Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Days 8–14: Our tour ends in New York, where we attend performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Enjoy a private viewing of the Museum of Modern Art and architectural walking tours.

A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.

Getting There

Qantas/American Airlines fly regularly into Chicago and home from New York.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals are shown with the letters B, L, D and C for canapes.

Monday October 8: Arrive Chicago

Depending on your choice of carrier, flights arrive into Chicago from the early morning to the late evening. Transfers to the hotel are included for those booking flights with Academy Travel and can be arranged for those who have booked their own flights. Tour members meet in the early evening for welcome drinks and canapés with the tour leader. Overnight Chicago (C)

Tuesday October 9: Millennium Park & the architecture of the ‘Loop’

Chicago is famous as the city where, after a disastrous fire in 1871, steel frames were used to make ‘skyscrapers’ – buildings so tall they needed an elevator. This initiated a tradition of ground-breaking architecture of the highest quality, which continues to this day. We begin our day at Millennium Park. Originally occupied by rail yards and parking lots, the area was redeveloped into a public space featuring Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion, gardens and some spectacular sculpture, including Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate. We continue to the ‘Loop’ precinct downtown and the ‘Michigan Avenue cliff’ – skyscrapers built in the first decades of the 20th century by Louis B Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright and others. This is followed by a welcome lunch at a nearby Chicago restaurant. The afternoon is free. Overnight Chicago (B, L)

Wednesday October 10: Art Institute of Chicago – Performance I

This morning, after a talk, we visit the highly-regarded Art Institute of Chicago, which boasts an outstanding collection of both European and American painting. The modern wing, designed by Renzo Piano, contains an impressive collection of 20th and 21st century art. Our visit is not guided and you will be free to follow your own artistic inclinations. The afternoon is at leisure and we meet again in the evening to attend a play at Steppenwolf Theater, generally regarded as the finest theatre company in the USA. Its ensemble approach is based on Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble. Overnight Chicago (B)

Performance details

Venue: Steppenwolf Theater, Lincoln Park

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Thursday October 11: Architectural River Cruise – Performance II

In the mid-morning we take a river cruise on the Chicago River, giving us further insight into Chicago’s outstanding contemporary architecture. In the early afternoon we ascend the Hancock Tower on the shores of Lake Michigan for superb views (weather permitting) across the city and the lake.  This evening we attend a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Overnight Chicago (B)

Performance details

Venue: Symphony Centre Chicago

Program: To be announced March 2018

Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Friday October 12: Robie House – Performance III

This morning we drive to Grant Park and through the site of the Chicago World’s Fair. Held in 1893, the Fair marked a turning point in Chicago’s emergence as a major American city, attracting visitors from around the world. Nearby is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a fine example of the architect’s early Prairie style. We take a comprehensive tour of the house. This evening we attend a production at the Chicago Lyric Opera. This fine company attracts performers and directors from around the world. Overnight Chicago (B)

Performance details

Venue: Lyric Opera of Chicago

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Saturday October 13: To Philadelphia – Performance IV

This morning we check out from our hotel and head for Chicago’s O’Hare airport for an afternoon flight to Philadelphia. This evening we have an early dinner together before walking to the Kimmel Center for a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Overnight Philadelphia (B, D)

Performance details

Venue: Verizon Hall, The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia

Program: To be announced

Performers: Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra

Sunday October 14: Explore Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of the most historic cities in the United States. It is where William Penn stepped ashore to found a commonwealth free from religious persecution, and it was the scene of many great events in the American Revolution from 1776 to 1783. The city also houses a superb art museum. This morning a local guide takes us on a walking tour encompassing Independence Hall, where the first Continental Congresses took place, the National Constitution Center, and William Penn’s landing place. We then take a coach to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Highlights of the collection include an entire building devoted to the sculpture of August Rodin, galleries of French impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, as well as American decorative arts and painting. Overnight Philadelphia (B)

Monday October 15: To New York – Performance V

This morning we drive to New York and arrive in time to settle in to our hotel and relax before tonight’s performance by the Metropolitan Opera. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details

Venue: Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Tuesday October 16: Midtown Art Deco

This morning we explore some of the Art Deco buildings of New York’s midtown district, perhaps the city’s most distinctive contribution to world architecture. Highlights include icons such as the Chrysler Building, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the Rockefeller Center, where 11 buildings comprise one of the most remarkable architectural projects of the 20th century. The walking tour concludes at Grand Central Station, a magnificent Beaux-Arts building, epitomising a city where ‘bigger is better’. Our lunch restaurant, Cipriani Dolci, offers great views across the main vestibule of the station. The afternoon is free. Overnight New York (B, L)

Wednesday October 17: The Frick and central Park – Performance VI

This morning we visit The Frick Collection, a superb collection of European old masters housed in the Fifth Avenue Mansion of Henry Clay Frick. After a break for lunch, a local guide takes us on a stroll through Central Park, explaining the remarkable landscaping of ‘New York’s largest work of art’. Our performance tonight is at David Geffen Hall. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details

Venue: David Geffen Hall

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Thursday October 18: Chelsea and the High Line

The Chelsea district is a study in urban renewal and has become a thriving centre of contemporary art and culture. In the mid-morning we visit the Whitney Museum of American Art, housed in a new building designed by Renzo Piano. After a break in the Chelsea Market we stroll along the ‘High Line’, a former goods line that runs above the West Side. In 2008 it opened as a pedestrian walkway, complete with gardens and unique views of the city. Overnight New York (B)

Friday October 19: MoMA Private Viewing – Performance VII

An undoubted highlight of our tour will be this morning’s private tour of MoMA – New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art. A museum lecturer guides us through the museum’s greatest works before the museum opens its doors to the public. Following the tour, you have free time to explore the museum’s collections. Our hotel is adjacent to the museum so you can enter and leave all day long. Tonight we attend a performance at historic Carnegie Hall. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details

Venue: Carnegie Hall

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Saturday October 20: Farewell New York – Performance VIII

This morning is at leisure to explore New York at your own pace. We meet for our farewell lunch at an excellent New York restaurant. Our final performance takes us back to the Metropolitan Opera. Overnight New York (B, L)

Performance details

Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center

Program: To be announced

Performers: To be announced

Sunday October 21: Departure

We check out of our hotel in the late morning. There will be time to stroll in Central Park before our mid-afternoon transfer to John F Kennedy Airport. (B)

Robert Gay

Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.

Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.

After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.

In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.

“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”

“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours


Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
  • All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:

  • Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
  • Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
  • Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity

Booking conditions

You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.


A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 60 days before departure: $500*
  • 60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
  • 44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due

*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.

Unused Portions of the tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Travel Insurance

Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.

Passport and Visa

A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.

Will the tour price change?

If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.

Will the itinerary change?

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

Final Payment

Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.

Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.

Fitness rating

Grade 2

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details


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Speak to a consultant

For further information or to secure a place on this tour please contact:
Jemma York 02 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699
(outside Sydney)

Detailed Itinerary

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