"The Toil of Chase and Trail"

Posted By on March 25, 2006

Beginning on February 6th, I embarked upon a stretch of seven weeks non-stop playing, which tested me (both mentally and physically) to the limit. I suppose these weeks would have been something I could only dream of experiencing back when I was just a wee lad. But I have to say, there has been a few moments when I thought I was going to break down and weep from exhaustion (yea, go ahead and make fun. It`s okay).

February 6th, the Luxembourg Philharmonic began rehearsals for Mahler`s 2nd Symphony. After three days of rehearsal, we performed this magnificent work three times, twice in Luxembourg and once in Antwerp (Kristina was joining the mighty OPL horn section on 6th, by the way). Immediately following this horn fest, we began rehearsals on Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Stravinsky. Once again there were three concerts, with the last one on Sunday, February 19th in the Philharmonie in Cologne. Directly after the performance, I drove to Bonn where Geof, Charlie and David were waiting for me at the famous Greek restaurant across from the Opera House. We discussed the up coming tour and started rehearsals for it the following morning. On Wednesday, the 22nd the four of us flew to Minneapolis to begin a very rewarding, but also quite heavy tour of the U.S. Several recitals, a number of Schumann Konzertstücks, masterclasses and lots of traveling brought us eventually to Atlanta where we played the final concert of this tour. Despite the sometimes grueling schedule (at one point we had three concerts and a masterclass within a 30-hour period!), we had an immensely good time and met a lot of new people and met up with a lot of old friends.

Immediately upon my arrival in Frankfurt (there was a huge snow storm that delayed my departure), I rushed to the rehearsal hall and crashed down in my seat to begin rehearsals for the Carl Davis “Live Cinema” production of “Iron Horse”. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues in the OPL for covering my position as I arrived a day and a half late to the rehearsals! Anyone who has played a Carl Davis score knows how one`s chops feel at the end of the week. Kristina, by the way, was working with the Hannover Radio Orchestra during the U.S. tour and she had been recording Shostakovitsch`s 4th Symphony in Bonn during the Carl Davis week.

Finally I had a day off. March 12th. The next morning I made my way to the Philharmonie in Luxembourg to begin rehearsals on Ravel`s Daphnis and Chloe (the complete ballet). The Schoenberg Violin Concerto with Hilary Hahn was also on the program. After two concerts in Luxembourg, we were once again on the road to play the concert at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels on the 19th. Between OPL rehearsals, Kristina and I were busy organizing for and rehearsing an Intermedii concert for the Lenten season. We will be singing the Bach Cantata “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” along with the Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah and two songs from the Rachmaninoff Vespers on the 12th of April and participating singers and instrumentalists alike have been awaiting our attention to this most worth while project.

Kristina with the Mighty Horns of the OPL during taping of the Planets. L-R: Patrick Coljon, Marc Bouchard, Miklos Nagy, Luc Van Marcke, Mark Olson, Kristina Mascher, Kerry Turner.Tuesday the 22nd the OPL began work on that spectacular work, the Planets by Gustav Holst. These were suppose to be family and childrens` concerts, which would include a film on a giant screen above the orchestra members`heads, The orchestra was smartly clad in colored shirts- blue for the strings, orange for the woodwinds, the brass were in green, the percussion were wearing maroon and the keyboard players were in red. Kristina was assisting Miklos Nagy who was attempting to save his lips for a concerto performance in Trier on Sunday. What we did not know is that the whole project was to be recorded on DVD and CD. We spent six hours every day on this undertaking and our chops were thoroughly worn out by the time we played the last performance on Saturday afternoon, the 25th.

Now, I am well aware that there are a good amount of horn players who keep up this sort of schedule on a regular basis. And I do indeed tip my hat to them, their dedication, artistry and endurance. But as for me…..I`m whooped!

Starting Tuesday the 28th, Kristina and I willl be practicing very hard indeed for our up coming CD recording with the Sinfonietta Cracovia in Poland, which is scheduled for Monday the 3rd through the 5th of April. The program for this endeavor is: Haydn Double Concerto in Eb, Rosetti Concert Nr. 3 in Eb for 2 Horns, Vivaldi Concerto Grosso “L`Estro Armonico” and my own “Twas a Dark and Stormy Night” newly reworked for 2 horns and string orchestra (plus some newly added material). And then there`s that Intermedii gig with the charmingly beautiful Bach Cantata which seems to be demanding my attention more and more.

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