- Alan Kay, Clarinetist and Artistic Director
My son Jonnie and I, along with oboists Matt Dine and James Austin Smith, parted from the group temporarily and took the high-speed train from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf on Sunday the 11th. It was a fabulous ride! We hit a top speed of about 279 km/hour (about 173 mph) and were in Düsseldorf in about half the time it took the Orpheus bus. (I admit this was all James’ idea!)
We were excited to be back in the Düsseldorf Tonhalle, home to Orpheus concerts many times before. The hall’s excellent acoustics and awe-inspiring architecture make for a memorable and satisfying performance experience. The Hindemith personnel completely owned the Kammermusik No. 1 by now (this was the group’s 7th performance, including Galapagos, Easton, and Carnegie Hall before the Euro-tour), and Albrecht Mayer was in top form. Our audience responded nicely to Andrew Norman’s piece, and Haydn 103 came off very well indeed, due in no small part to Maya Gunji’s newfangled improvisation of the famous opening drumroll. This was her second time going to town on that opening—the first was in Frankfurt and nearly gave me a heart attack: I literally thought I had come onstage for the wrong piece. But the shocker somehow jarred the orchestra into two particularly stirring and fun performances.
We again gave Rossini’s “Italian in Algiers” Overture as an encore, and this time accordionist Bill Schimmel was joined by none other than Albrecht, who sat himself down in the second violin section to play with us!
And so ended a successful little tour! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Ryun Schienbein and Vienne Chen, who managed the tour perfectly—it’s safe to say that a good time, along with quite a bit of bratwurst and good German beer, was had by all.