Between Christmas and New Years I was lucky enough to be invited to play with a small orchestra in Thüringen, based in the city of Eisenach. This charming little place has quite the history and for musicians is quite significant, as J.S. Bach was born and raised here.
The Orchestra of the Landestheater in Eisenach is relatively small, consisting of about 20 full-time musicians, meaning that for most orchestral projects they need to bring Aushilfen (casual musicians) in to play – primarily brass and woodwind players. However, their size doesn’t affect their quality of playing what-so-ever. I was absolutely blown away by the solo woodwinds in particular!
The program for this project was very standard for a New Year’s Concert, consisting primarily of Polkas, Viennese Waltzes and Operettas, with a few popular orchestral pieces such as Bolero, thrown in for good measure. I had the pleasure of playing second horn, with a lovely guy from the States (lived in Germany for 20 years or so) sitting on first. As I generally don’t play second horn, I used the well-known repertoire to scratch up on my skills and found it to be a very enjoyable experience! (Watch out second horn players – maybe I’ll start applying for Wechselhorn (3./2. Horn) auditions 😉)
When we weren’t rehearsing, I used the time to explore the city, hangout with my fellow section member, track down vegan chocolate (Vego is my favourite) and recover from my cold. I wish I’d had more time there though, as there are some amazing hiking trails that surround the city, with some leading to the well-known Wartburg Schloss (Castle). Luckily, I’ve been invited to play back there in June and summer weather is much more pleasant to go hiking in!
I was blessed with having the 31.12 free from rehearsals so I made my way to Leipzig (only 1 hour by train) to spend it with Steph and Sharn (a visiting horn-playing-friend from Australia). We managed to get some vey last minute food shopping done, and spent the evening enjoying some wine, tasty food and of course the fireworks at midnight!
On New Year’s Day, I travelled back to Eisenach in preparation for the afternoon concert. At 4pm The Landestheater was filled to the brim with locals, there to celebrate their orchestra and the New Year. They especially loved Bolero (not a musician’s favourite piece) and applauded until we ran out of Zugaben (encore pieces)!
I left Eisenach on the 2.1 after waking up to the streets full of snow and -5 degree weather. It’s always beautiful to see snow, but only for the first few minutes. Then you remember that you need to wait outside for your train, and that the ice under the snow is not so friendly…!