In one week of LCSO’s Residency in Vienna, I have experienced more than I can even remember to write in this blog. I had no idea what adventures would take place when I stepped on the bus last Thursday morning, but I could never have imagined this.
After an eight hour bus ride, an eight hour plane ride, and a seven hour time change from Luther, our group made it safely (and with all our luggage and instruments) to Munich. Slightly incoherent and very groggy, we arrived in Salzburg that afternoon. Seeing the Alps was entrancing. I’m accustomed to mountain scenery, but nothing compares to those snow-capped peaks.
Our Salzburg hotel was quaint and accommodating, and that evening we were treated to a delicious dinner at St. Peter’s Restaurant, an establishment that has been standing since 803 A.D. Yes, that is 803 A.D. The next day was full of touring the historic city. Most notably, we saw Mozart’s birth house that was made into a museum. I can honestly say that I read every piece of information that it had to offer and saw such relics as Mozart’s first piano and original paintings of the musical genius. After a quick lunch, and a stop at St. Peter’s Cathedral, we climbed to the top of the Salzburg Fortress. It was originally built to house the entire city in time of war, and the view from the top on the clear day was magnificent.
Sunday we were consumed in fog during our bus ride to Vienna. Along the way, we stopped at Mauthausen Concentration Camp. The tour was full of information, incomprehensible in it’s horror. I will always remember that our tour guide, a local, thought it was wonderful that we were a group of musicians who could connect with other people in such a positive way.
The stop at Mauthausen took two hours longer than expected, meaning that we arrived in Vienna two hours late for our bus tour, subsequently in the dark. I didn’t complain though because Viennese architecture in the evening was magical. Everything along the Ringstrasse (the original border of the city) was beautifully bright and elegant and I became enamored with the city from that moment. It also helped that our tour guide was an energetic, opinionated older Austrian woman who described each site with detail and humor.
This week we have had at least one, usually two rehearsals a day, with breakfast and lunch at the hotel. The music is going beautifully, and Dr. Baldwin is pulling perfection from every person. It’s been a surreal experience to see posters in the U-Bahn of our upcoming, almost sold-out concert. I feel we will be prepared and represent Luther well.
In the afternoon we often have free time to explore the city, something I thoroughly enjoy. We do this via the U-Bahn, the underground subway, and trams. I have already been to Stephansplatz (the neighborhood of St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the Prater with the famous ferris wheel and around the Ringstrasse. No matter where we go, whether on accident or on purpose, I find myself looking up. Vienna holds many diverse architectural styles, and whether I’m looking at a gilded ceiling in he Musikverein, or at the elegant balconies of our hotel, the city is beautiful all the way to the top.
The Staatsoper is the State Opera House where I have seen the opera “Tosca” and a ballet, “Shritte and Spuren.” I have never attended either an opera or ballet before and both were good in their own way. Even though the symphony doesn’t have tickets for the whole group for more than a few shows, there is usually standing room tickets for about 3 Euros, a very cheap trade off for sore feet. Last night we saw a baroque orchestra at the Musikverein, another wonderful venue with energetic musicians. You could definitely tell that they love what they do. There is something to do and see every night here, there’s too much to choose from!
I’m enjoying every minute spent with my LCSO comrades, if you couldn’t tell. I don’t know what the next week will hold, but I know I’ll be looking up.