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Classical Notes: January 24, 2007 Archive

Vienna Postcard No. 2

Posted at 4:08 AM on January 24, 2007 by John Birge (8 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

Sorry for the delay since Postcard No. 1. The problem with coming to Vienna to work is, well, all that pesky work! It has a habit of getting in the way of sightseeing and blogging. Our MPR team was able to combine business and pleasure on Monday, by taking a microphone with us around the city, and recording sounds of Vienna old and new, to incorporate into the opening sequence of our broadcast. With a laptop and digital sound editing, it's fantastic to be able bring a complete audio studio in a shoulder bag! The rest of our Monday was production work, scripting, and preparing for Tuesday's broadcast.

Now it's Wednesday and my work is done, after last night's live broadcast from the Musikverein. I was stationed in the same announcer's booth used for the annual New Year's concert by the Vienna Philharmonic. If that sounds glamorous, guess again: it's basically a storage closet. Actually, this sort of thing is not so unusual in the radio business (no pictures, after all). I did have a video feed of the stage so I could see the action while calling the live 'play-by-play.' After sorting out some 11th-hour/nail-biting technical issues (it just wouldn't be a live broadcast without them!), the show went off without a hitch. Very fun to be there!!

My only regret? Not being able to hear the concert while seated in the hall, which has the best acoustic in the world. But I did sit in on rehearsal, and was again struck by the energy of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Also, their sound was even clearer in the Musikverein than in their usual digs at the Ordway. I know how a tour like this galvanizes an orchestra. As an American musician, the old European concert halls are a new experience, and combined with pulling together for a road trip, the music-making is refreshed. It's carbonated -- there's an extra sparkle you can hear.

Right now I'm hearing through the wall of my hotel room an SPCO violinist practicing; A very nice way to start the day, at least for me! I know that practice time is dear when you're traveling every day in an orchestra, so you sneak in whatever moments you can. The orchestra's bus leaves in minutes for their next concert in Zagreb . My work here is over, but will spend some time relaxing in Vienna, incl Bryn Terfel as Don Giovanni at the Staatsoper this evening. Also, someone told me they just might have some good desserts here as well. Hmmm..

Liebe Grüße aus Wien!

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