Nov 07 2019

Munich Amsterdam Paris

Published by at 7:15 am under PSO 2019 European Tour

From Augsburg Munich visitors Juergen Beck, ‘Anka’ Anna Katerina Beck

The final tour  week was a blitz beginning Sunday in Munich where Manfred Honeck helped me with a lunch menu choice. Munich plans on building a new concert hall in the next few years which has been controversial with regard to the cost as in Hamburg and Paris. The combination of restaurants, cafes, bars, interesting design, shopping all contribute to making these concert halls a hit. There are many individual connections on the tour with family, friends and former students of the Pittsburgh Symphony musicians. For me it was a joy to see our WQED-FM intern from last summer Anka, Anna Katerina Beck and her Dad Juergen Beck who drove to Munich from Augsburg. You heard Anna on the air in several promotional spots she produced in August. Anka showed me her phone which still has her PAT Connect card for using the bus and a lucky dollar. They presented me with a beautiful book of Augsburg history and a beer stein unique to Augsburg.

PSO Violist Joen Vasquez at Munich’s Gasteig Concert Hall backstage

Some members of the Orchestra heard the glockenspiel with its automated figures spinning in the clock tower at the Rathaus and where Oktoberfest happens in Munich.  Backstage I admired the large photos of Lorin Maazel and the old posters of Claudio Arrau, Astrid Varnay, Hans Werner Henze and other great Munich concerts. Violist Joen Vasquez recalled some great concerts with Claudio Arrau. Lang Lang seemed very pleased with his Pittsburgh concerts meting with a large crowd of fans after his Mozart Concerto which turned on Jim and Cheryl Redmond and Dr. James Duggan from Pittsburgh. Dr.  Duggan remembered hearing Van Cliburn play at Chautauqua just after he won the Tchaikovsky Competition and had a ticker tape parade in New York but before he appeared three times on Mr Rogers Neighborhood.

The area around the concert hall is full of lfe with bars in front of restaurants. Historical displays detail on the dark events of WWII which occurred here, the Hitlerputsch and deportation of Jews with the arrival of American tanks.

Manfred Honeck with menu guidance at Spatenhaus an den Oper Munich

At lunch in Munich Music Director Manfred Honeck helped translate the menu with Bavarian specialties. French horn William Caballero took out picture during the deliberation.

I forgot to mention I usually order vegetarian. The Maestro said my selection reminded him of Pittsburgh’s bridges.


From Munich it was on to Amsterdam with the flower stalls, the tulip bulbs and outdoor stands devoted to oliebollen, the fried  doughnut holes. With the discussion of the frequent odor of cannabis in downtown Pittsburgh in mind I did notice a great deal of weed being smoked in Amsterdam. Smoking has been banned in most bars but there is a smoking boat which floats in the canals. The cat museum is an interesting stop, the Katten Kabinett with Picasso’s Le Chat and the largest grouping of cat art anywhere. It closes at five which limited viewing for the tour party who were also trying to catch Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh at his museum.

Katten Kabinet Art Museum dedicated to cats in Amsterdam

Composer, concert organizer and promoter and flutist Albert Manders has lived in Amsterdam as a Dutch citizen for thirteen years. After the cats we stopped at the Hoppe, a brown bar with dark wood which was formerly a smoky place with a wonderful Dutch old master painting above the bar, Amstel beer and Le Chouf with a nice range of choices. Albert  is a Pitt grad who came to the Concertgebouw. He admired the painting of Mariss Jansons, former Concertgebouw and  Pittsburgh Symphony Music Director which is installed upstairs.

Igor Levit after this Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

After the concert with Igor Levit’s Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody I met oboist Lexie Kroll and her friend Rachel Core who came to concert. They are living in Amsterdam while studying at Temple University. Contrabassoon Jim Rodgers who has helped us with the FM fundraisers went for a post concert celebration at the Vegan Junk Food Restaurant, one of two in Amsterdam.

PSO Contrabassoon Jim Rodgers, Trobonist Rachel Core, Composer and Flutist Albert Manders and Oboe Lexie Kroll

The high speed Thalys train took the group from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to the Paris Nord station on Tuesday. There was just enough time to glance at le Monde and Le Parisien newspapers with a review of a Mariss Jansons, headline “Musical Perfection” and an ad for Europe 1 tv displaying an animated President Trump and the headline ‘listen to the world changing’  ‘Ecoutez le monde changer’  while eating the French grilled ham and cheese sandwich, croque monsieur.

I admired the Faubourg fromage croissant and it was off to the bus for the debut of the Pittsburgh Symphony at the Philharmonie de Paris. Amazing place. There were metal detectors for the audience and the musicians backstage. The building looks like it was carved out of the side of a mountain or a space ship from ET touching down.

Standing in front of the Philharmonie de Paris designed by Jean Nouvel








Mathias Goerne sang Schubert and Strauss with his trademark intensity and delicacy between the Paris premiere of Mason Bates Resurrexit which was warmly received and the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony providing Zenas Hsu, guest concertmaster, Lorna McGhee Principal Flute, Cynthia Koledo deAlmeida, Principal oboe, Micah  Wilkinson Principal trumpet and many other moments of solo display. The Parisians flipped out with one of the warmest responses of the tour bringing two encores, Grieg’s Morning Mood from Peer Gynt and the Death of Tybalt from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet score.

Baritone Mathias Goerne and Music Director Manfred Honeck take a bow with the Pittsburgh Symphony at Philharmonie de Paris









Ryan Cook from Pittsburgh ( I know his Mom  Cathy who serves as Director of Education Projects at WQED) brought four friends to the concert who are studying at the American University of Paris. I can not imagine four more bright and beautiful ambassadors for the US. Listen to their interview which is on Facebook as a post from WQED-FM.

Alayna Amrein,Emily King,Zach Egan and Ryan Cook from American University of Paris in the lobby at Philharmonie de Paris









After the concert Antoinette Tuma invited friends to visit her home on Rue de Wagram. Antoinette is a long time donor to WQED-Fm who worked as a volunteer for a decade. Then the next morning Frances Debroff another lifelong WQED member who runs the St.  Bart’s Festival in the winter and now lives permanently in Paris on Rue de Varenne just a few doors from the French Minister of the Interior.