May 21 2010

Battle of the Bulge

Published by at 7:19 pm under PSO 2010 European Tour

Click any photo for more pictures

Click any photo for more pictures

Click any photo for more pictures

The second concert in Luxembourg was even more thrilling than the first. Anne Sophie Mutter was radiant in the Brahms Concerto and her Bach encore. The Shostakovich Fifth Symphony brought two encores, The Dragonfly by Johann Strauss, and the Final Waltz from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.

The weather was perfect. I strolled through the Musée Art Moderne designed by architect I. M. Pei. It was built within the walls of Luxembourg’s ancient fortifications  just a few yards from the Philharmonie. The Musée is mostly white, and it’s flooded with natural light from broad windows and Pei’s hallmark pyramidal glass ceiling. It’s  filled with artists such as Cindy Sherman and modern mischief makers from the Luxembourg region in an exhibit called Brave New World. There were only a few folks on hand at opening time on Friday morning. The building is a draw in and of itself. I’d go there again just to have another pear tart in the most spectacular museum café I can recall.

Der Führer's Face

Der Führer's Face

Der Führer's Face

I joined about 20 of the tour members for an excursion organized by the PSO’s President and CEO Larry Tamburri, and Vice President of Public Relations Jim Barthen. We visited the battlefield of one of the most momentous conflicts of WWII in Belgium, The Battle of the Bulge.  About an hour across the Belgian border, we stopped at a storefront museum in the town of Bastogne that was full of battlefield souvenirs, guns, knives, rockets, radios, Chesterfield cigarette packs, rations, helmets, water canteens and implements of destruction of every kind from Germans, Russians, British and Americans. Then we visited the 1950 memorial to American dead, and looked over the green fields with cows grazing where the bombs exploded. John Soroka’s dad fought in the battle and was hit by a rocket, but lived. He never told the tale to his kids like so many veterans who never wanted to reveal the unspeakable horrors they’d seen.

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Percussionist John Soroka at the Bastogne Historical Center

Percussionist John Soroka at the Bastogne Historical Center

Percussionist John Soroka at the Bastogne Historical Center

Now the pace quickens again with a plane to Prague early in the morning. Then, Sunday, another city where bombs flattened the landscape in WWII– Dresden, Germany. On Monday we’re off to Vienna, Austria.

Don’t forget to visit the Deutschlandfunk web site, where you can listen to a high-fidelity stream of the PSO live from Dresden on Monday, May 24 at 2:00 pm Eastern time. Cellist Jan Vogler will play the Schumann concerto, to be followed by Mahler’s Symphony #1.