So, after reading all about the OAE’s last week in Europe it was now my turn to join the tour for the last few days. Once again the orchestra found themselves on a charter plane, this time to Karlsruhe from Stanstead airport. Having the charter plane was a sheer delight with a very smooth check-in and no other passengers within a mile of our boarding gate! (The rest of Stanstead was chaos!). The Christmas turkey meal we were served on the plane was not so much of sheer delight, but filled a growling tummy all the same!
After a short transfer to our hotels, in Baden-Baden an hour to check-in and rest (?!), we were picked up and taken to the Festspielhaus for the rehearsal & concert.
It was dark by now, so didn’t get to see much of Baden-Baden ( so good they named it twice? Sorry had to get that in somewhere….) en route to the concert hall, apart from lots of white Christmas trees!
Baden-Baden is a spa town, with many older and wealthy residents – rather like the UK equivalent of Eastbourne… I almost fainted in shock when Stephen and myself were handed our tickets for the evening concert and €170.00 was printed on the tickets! Wow, with the Euro exchange rate being so low that’s some ticket! Later in the concert, had a good look at the audience (or did some profiling as we say sometimes) and I think they could definitely do with some Night Shift initiatives to get a younger crowd in (although they might need to be shipped in from another town!)
The concert was fantastic, and I think the slow movement of the 2nd Symphony might have just earned itself a place on my favourite’s list (anyone want to buy me a CD for Christmas??)
This morning we set off on an epic 4 hour coach journey to Cologne. After a few panics of a left-behind laptop, scarf, & some almost stolen peanuts we were on our way through the rain! Had a quick stop at a service station (UK service stations could really learn a thing or 2 from the Germans….) and finally arrived in Cologne with enough time before the rehearsal to have a late lunch, scout around the heaving Christmas markets and even sample some Glühwein! (Well it would have been rude not to!)
The Philharmonie in Cologne had an afternoon concert that didn’t finish till 6pm, so at 6pm sharp Philippa, Emma and I along with some staff from the hall set-up the stage in record time. The orchestra had a short rehearsal and then as the hotel was opposite the concert hall, had the luxury of being able to use their own bedroom as a dressing room if they wanted!
Tonight the concert started at 8pm (last night was 7pm the previous night 7.30pm – how confusing!) and featured both Berlioz overtures, with Symphony’s 4 and then 3. The Philharmonie is a wonderful hall, shaped rather like a Roman Amphitheatre. The Romans obviously knew a thing or 2 about acoustics as the sound carried superbly! Tonight our tickets were in the 5th row from the front, and I was very consciously aware that the orchestra could see me and Stephen in the Audience. I caught Netty’s (viola) eye a couple of times and I kept having to look away in case I made her laugh!
The audience gave a standing ovation and even as a reserved Brit I joined in, wondering whether Schumann 4 was now my favourite of the 4 symphonies….. Or was it 3….
The Philharmonie management had told us that as usual post-concert beer would be served in the artists bar backstage! After the mammoth Berlioz and Schumann workout the orchestra had just done on stage they certainly were thirsty for it!
Ceri Jones, Projects Manager