Two more wildly successful days have flown by in Deutschland for the Pittsburgh Symphony. The tour party is still talking about the fantastic evening in Berlin with the webcast. Everyone I met could not have been nicer or more helpful in pulling together the backstage camera position. I had a wonderful makeup artist Jeanne Groellmann. She needed to dab me a lot with the warmth in the hall and the hike from the hotel needing speed. Magdalena Zieba-Schwind gave me the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown and kept things moving with good cheer and warmth. The Head of the Video Department Katherina Bruner met us in the lobby to guide us up to the control room for a production meeting. George Nducha served as video supervisor. Hannah Dorn guided us through the early stages of figuring out what to do. Almost everyone had perfect English. Erik Koschnik helped run the prompter. Thomas Kutschker, Martin Baer and Boris Fromageot followed the maestro and special events in the hall like the encores including It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood from Michael Rusinek and Berliner Luft with Noah Bendix Balgley.. Alexander Lueck, Christopher Rowe were also wonderful. Creative Producer Christoph Franke was backstage at the end of the evening he seemed delighted with how the concert had gone.
There was such a super charged feeling of sharing something special and working together to bring the best possible experience to music lovers. Because the Digital Concert Hall at the Berlin Philharmonie is one of a kind they could have employed a take it or leave it attidtude but they worked way beyond expectations to make it the best and laughed about it too. I’m sure they may have had some trepidation about a stranger showing up at the last minute with a lengthy script but they handled in stride. Highest rating! It was fun to watch the backstage activity. I spent a few minutes with Principal Harp Gretchen van Hoesen who rushed out onstage for the Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty encore. Our director must have been surprised by the Terrible Towel wich even won a mention in the rave review from the Taggesspiegel critic.
I had a one hour visit with my fellow Thiel College alum Ken Nein. We looked at what was playing in the next door Sony Center on Monday morning with a stop at the Film Museum gift shop. The sound tracks tempted me. The Starbucks at the Film Haus is just one of many open air options for sitting around absorbing the atmosphere.
The concert in the Albertinum State Museum of Dresden was a hit with the Liszt Concerto No 1 from Danil Trifonov. No one knew exactly what his Tchaikovsky encore was, a gentle dance transcription. I will ask him for the specifics. I loved the haydn 93rd Symphony with it’s fun bassooon raspberry and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony really roared to a close.
While I write NDR Kultur is playing Debussy’s La Mer and Criminal Minds is on tv dubbed in German. When you’re not watching the screen you become more aware of the amount of screaming in the crime show even with the volume down low.
Today was an unforgettable day with the trip to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. Our group went for a tour at 1pm. The town is much bigger than I imagined but impossible to think of more than 60,000 crammed in at one time. 15,000 children 33,000 died of starvation, typhoid, over malnutrition. Over 150 died each day at the height of the madness and over 188,000 were transported to Auschwitz with almost all going right to the gas chambers. Listening to the birds sing on a warm sunny day you can’t help but think of how impossible it must have been for the children in their barracks to hear the birds. Tll leafy trees create a beautiful corridor for walking in a place with such a history of horror.
The concert by the Clarion Quartet with Violist Tatjana Mead Chamis, violinists Jennifer Orchard and Marta Krechkovsky and cellist Browyn Banerdt was given in the same small upstairs room where the Hans Krasa childrens opera Brundibar was given many times. Brundibar the bad guy as seen by the residents as a stnad in for Hitler. Our Quartet gave an amazing account of music by Erwin Schulhoff and Victor Ullmann both of whom died at Terezin. Manfred Honeck walked the entire tour and recalled his Czech family ties of several generations back when the family name was spelled Honek.
I spent part of the day with violist Paul Silver and his daughter WQED-FM Musical Kid Sarah now with the San Antonio Symphony. Cellist Michael Lipman lost some family memebrs in WWII and at least one had been at Terezin. WQED-FM FM Angels Tom and Donna Hotopp shared with me a book bt Pavel Weiner a family friend who they’d met through their daughter. I enjoyed walking alongside one half of our tour report sponsorship team Jon and Carol Walton.
Seeing the tracks which were built into Terezin for the sole purpose of moving Jews to their death, looking at the mass gravesite and the crematorium can’t help but spur reflection on why the European Immigration crisis is such a mess and the on going wars in Syria, Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism keeping it all churning.
The bags are already gone for tomorrow. It’s on to Frankfurt.
Here are the links to the reviews from Berlin if you missed the Facebook posts: