Oct 9 - 21, 2018
13 days
$10,350per person, twin share (land content only). $2,200 supplement for sole use of a hotel room

Tour Leader

Robert Gay
Oct 9 - 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


Academy Travel is proud to again offer its music tour to three of the United States’ most musical cities: Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. This year there is an attractive line-up of four orchestral concerts and four operas. The concerts include three of the USA’s leading orchestras, whereas the operas come from core Italian and French repertoires. Enjoy performances in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, some of America’s great galleries and museums, and experience a private, out-of-hours viewing of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


  • America’s superlative culture of operatic performances, on a scale not possible in Australia
  • Leading conductors and soloists with three top American orchestras, and top-flight international singers
  • Insight into the history and production of the performances in pre-performance talks
  • The history of America’s staggering collections of art, including exclusive events such as a private visit to MoMA in New York
  • Long stays in major cities, private dining in highly-regarded restaurants, the company of like-minded music lovers



Eight performances are included. Best available seats to all performances are included in the tour price.


  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing Mahler’s Symphony No. 3
  • Puccini’s La bohème at the Lyric Opera of Chicago


  • The Philadelphia Orchestra playing Chausson, Debussy and arrangements by Leopold Stokowski

New York

  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique at Carnegie Hall
  • Violinist Joshua Bell with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Corigliano’s score to The Red Violin
  • Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila at the Metropolitan Opera, with Elīna Garanča and Roberto Alagna
  • The legendary Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi’s Aida, featuring star mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili
  • Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West at the Metropolitan Opera

Itinerary Overview

Days 1–4: In Chicago for four nights, we attend two performances and visit the wonderful Art Institute of Chicago, with its staggering collections of fine and decorative art from around the globe. Explore Chicago’s renowned modern architecture, including works by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Days 5–6: Fly to Philadelphia for an orchestral performance; tour the excellent Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Days 7–13: Our tour concludes with 5 nights in New York, where we attend performances at the Metropolitan Opera and 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.

Tuesday October 9: Arrive Chicago

Most flights from Australia arrive into Chicago in the early 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)

Wednesday October 10: Millennium Park & Art Institute of Chicago

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. The former rail and cattle yard 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 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. This is followed by a welcome lunch at a nearby Chicago restaurant. The afternoon is free. Overnight Chicago (B, L)

Thursday October 11: La bohème – Performance I

This morning there is a talk in our hotel. In the early afternoon we head to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a performance of Puccini’s La bohème. The Lyric Opera is well supported by the Chicago community and its roster features the best singers and conductors on the international scene. This afternoon’s performance is a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The UK’s Independent newspaper gave the ‘startlingly new’ production five stars. Overnight Chicago (B)

Performance details
Venue: Lyric Opera, Chicago
Program: Puccini, La bohème
Performers: To be announced

Friday October 12: Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Performance II

This morning Robert Gay gives a talk outlining Mahler’s vast conception for his Third Symphony. We then head to Daniel Burnham’s 1904 Symphony Centre to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play the work. The orchestra is led by a rising star or the orchestral world, Columbian Andrés Orozco-Estrada. After the performance there is the option of an architectural cruise of the Chicago River, showcasing a century of architectural achievement. Overnight Chicago (B)

Performance details
Venue: Symphony Center, Chicago
Program: Mahler, Symphony No.3
Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Kelley O’Connor (mezzo-soprano), Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus

Saturday October 13: To Philadelphia – Performance III

This morning we check out from our hotel and head for Chicago’s O’Hare airport for a flight to Philadelphia. This evening we have an early dinner together before walking to the Kimmel Center for a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The program includes orchestrations by Leopold Stokowski who for decades was a renowned chief conductor of the orchestra. Overnight Philadelphia (B, D)

Performance details
Venue: Verizon Hall, The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia
Program: Palestrina / orch. Stokowski: ‘Adoramus te Christe’; Chausson Poème; Debussy / orch. Stokowski ‘The Sunken Cathedral’; Debussy La Mer
Performers: Philadelphia Orchestra, Stéphane Denève (conductor), David Kim (violin)

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 IV

This morning we drive to New York, arriving in time to settle in to our hotel and relax before this evening’s performance at Carnegie Hall. Tonight’s performance promises to be a highlight. Sir John Eliot Gardiner, created the orchestra to specialise in music of the early 19th-century, personally selecting the musicians. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details
Venue: Carnegie Hall, New York
Program: Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique and Lélio
Performers: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Tuesday October 16: Midtown Art Deco – Performance V

After a pre-performance talk 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. After lunch in a local restaurant, the afternoon is free before we head to the Metropolitan Opera to see a new production of Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila. Overnight New York (B, L)

Performance details
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, New York
Program: Saint-Saëns, Samson et Dalila
Performers: Elīna Garanča (Dalila), Roberto Alagna (Samson), Sir Mark Elder (conductor)

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. Afterwards there is free time to stroll in Central Park. Tonight’s performance features star violinist Joshua Bell and the New York Philharmonic playing John Corigliano’s score for the film The Red Violin, while the film is projected above. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details
Venue: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York
Program: Corigliano, The Red Violin
Performers: Joshua Bell (violin), New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Stern (conductor)

Thursday October 18: Chelsea and the High Line – Performance VII

The Chelsea district is a study in urban renewal and has become a thriving centre of contemporary art and culture. After a pre-performance talk, 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. Tonight we return to the Met Opera for its legendary production of Aida, a chance to explore an operatic performance on a scale that is simply not physically possible in Australia. The excellent cast features mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili. Overnight New York (B)

Performance details
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, New York
Program: Verdi, Aida
Performers: Tamara Wilson (Aida), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Radames), Anita Rachvelishvili (Amneris), Nicola Luisotti (conductor)

Friday October 19: MoMA Private Viewing

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. This afternoon and evening are both free for you to explore New York. Overnight New York (B)

Saturday October 20: Farewell New York – Performance VIII

After a morning talk, we meet for our farewell lunch at an excellent restaurant. Our final performance takes us back to the Metropolitan Opera for Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, which premiered at the old Met in 1910. Overnight New York (B, L)

Performance details
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York
Program: Puccini, La fanciulla del West
Performers: Jonas Kaufmann (Dick Johnson), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Minnie), Željko Lučić (Jack Rance), Marco Armiliato (conductor)

Sunday October 21: Departure

We check out of our hotel in the late morning 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


Book Online Now More Details
Hold a Place Download Booking Form

Speak to a consultant

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

Detailed Itinerary

Download now

Next Departure

If these dates don't work for you, register to hear about the next tour.


Please keep me informed about the next departure of this tour.

Hold a Place

Thank you for your interest in this tour. We are happy to hold a tentative place for seven days while you make your final arrangements to come on tour.


Sign up to our mailing list for tour updates and latest news.