For our last sightseeing opportunity, we traveled from Melk to Durnstein on a Danube River Cruise that was as peaceful and relaxing as it was picturesque.
Then it was onto Musikverein to rehearse in the famed Golden Hall. The stage design enables performers to hear each other, and the acoustics in the hall are outstanding. It is obvious why this historic venue has been home to so many great performers and composers.
For dinner we went down to the Metalliner Salon underneath the Golden Hall. The performance concert halls and lobby are perfectly preserved in the 1812 Music Society’s elegant style, however the reception rooms and administrative buildings are strikingly modern and sleek. Quintessential Austrian blend of the old and new!
The evening’s program featured YPSO, New Jersey Youth Symphony and Camerata Medica, the first time that three orchestras have performed on the same program at Musikverein. 1200 tickets were sold! We continued our water theme of the day, playing Vltava by Smetana and Debussy’s La Mer. We received many compliments from our Austrian musical friends. According to several YPSO musicians, performing in the Golden Hall was mind-blowing, awesome and amazing!
Heartfelt thanks to Shelly Gin Lee and Vladimir for writing the blog with such a warm and personal style, and for taking terrific photos. They have provided a wonderful glimpse of the highlights of the trip. She and Vladimir spent many ridiculously late nights trying to coax the internet to cooperate so folks at home could follow along with us.
I want to share a little more detail about the closing concert.
Our musicians made us proud by adhering to the many complex and rigorous rules of this venerated concert hall; they behaved very professionally in some very challenging situations. The hall has a strict prohibition against photography, but due to an eleventh hour negotiation with NJYS and the administration of the Musikverein, and with the unexpected generosity of two remarkable donors, I was able to strike an agreement that enabled Vladimir to document this historic event. As you will see, the orchestra members looked stunning on the stage.
For this final performance, YPSO pulled out all the stops and gave what was arguably the best performance in its 76-year history. As David said, they have taken ownership of the music. Vltava had a spark and ease to it, born of the familiarity of performing it throughout the tour. La Mer came together with a sophistication and maturity that was way beyond what anyone would expect from such young musicians, and the audience was moved beyond words. The last chord of the Debussy is something I will remember for my whole life.