CSO European Tour blog

The Cincinnati Symphony is embarking on an 11-date concert tour of nine cities in five countries, including the major music capitals Vienna, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, Madrid and Barcelona. The 110-year-old orchestra will make its Paris debut and will return to Vienna for the first time in a decade.

Enquirer staff writer Janelle Gelfand is with the Symphony. She posts updates from the tour, as well as her thoughts and experience, here.

Oct. 29 - Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria

Oct. 30 - Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany

Oct. 31 - Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany

Nov. 2 - Cologne Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany

Nov. 3 - Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany

Nov. 4 - Rosengarten Culture and Congress Center, Mannheim, Germany

Nov. 5 - Chatelet Theatre Musical de Paris, Paris, France

Nov. 6 - Muziekcentrum Enschede, Enschede, the Netherlands

Nov. 8-9 - Auditorio Nacional del Musica, Madrid, Spain

Nov. 10 - Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona, Spain More about the tour:
Tour sells orchestra

Friday, November 12, 2004
Hasta la vista
Posted at 1:33 PM

DATELINE: BARCELONA I woke up in Barcelona Thursday morning, the day after the Cincinnati Symphony played its final tour concert, and realized -- I'm in Barcelona!! This tour has been a 2 1/2-week blur of cities, hotels, buses, airports and concert halls. Most of the time, I was just thinking of where I had to be next. Stuttgart? Frankfurt? Cologne? Paris? Madrid?

Here's how I feel today: siesta after breakfast; siesta after lunch; siesta after dinner ...

But who can sleep in a city like Barcelona? It's is a spectacular city, and I've never been here before. (It's on my list of places I need to see someday at leisure!) The concert Wednesday evening (that started at the fashionable hour of 9 p.m.) was in an amazing stained glass palace (Palau de la Musica Catalana), even more fanciful than the famous Gaudi-designed buildings that add whimsy to the leafy Barcelonan boulevards.

After the concert, the orchestra feted its musicians with a midnight buffet at the hotel, and it was fun to see each table of musicians toasting each other for a job well done. Several had celebrated birthdays on the tour: Stage manager Joe Hopper (who got dessert with a candle in Frankfurt); principal percussionist Bill Platt; violist Judith Martin; and tour soloist Helene Grimaud. The virtuoso pianist turned 34 in Amsterdam (the orchestra performed a "run-out concert" in Enschede, Netherlands).

At the final party, music director Paavo Jarvi thanked his musicians for their hard work. Here's some of what he said:

"It's hard for me to believe the tour is over. ... It's addictive, and when I think that tomorrow I won't see you, I get depressed.

"Touring and recording are the two most important things in furthering the Cincinnati Symphony. What we've done in three years is remarkable. The result and the benefit of touring cannot be measured. It's a long-term building process. We are a better orchestra today than we were two weeks ago.

"There is nothing better than a successful tour in the most important cities in Europe. It must be stupid, or courageous, to start a tour in Vienna, but we did it. ... I am incredibly honored and proud to be a part of this organization. It means more to me than any other relationship, musically speaking.

"We've grown together and we're having fun, which, at the end of the day, is not so unimportant. I thank you for being my family, and I hope that in the not-so-distant future, we'll do it again in some other part of the world." (Insert minor groans from musicians here.)

On Thursday, everyone went their separate ways, the musicians back to Cincinnati, and Jarvi to his London flat where he would spend three days before heading to Tokyo for a three-week conducting stint in Japan.

Here are some of my tour observations:

I was impressed that nearly every concert hall I visited had multiple bars on each level for coffee, small sandwiches, champagne, drinks and desserts. Message to Cincinnati: We need FOOD at Music Hall!!

The musicians flocked together to sightsee and eat meals according to their instruments: all the clarinets, all the cellos, all the French horns ...

Europe is expensive for Americans, perhaps more than any time in recent memory. The value of the dollar has dropped significantly and everything is 50 percent more expensive than two years ago.

Some memorable scenes from the tour:

Seeing the Parisians' enthusiastic reaction to the Cincinnati Symphony at the Theatre du Chatelet. And Paris is known to have a tough audience for classical music.

Visiting the Vienna Boys Choir school in the Augartenpalais, the day after the symphony performed in the Konzerthaus.

The fashionable, sold-out crowds in Stuttgart and other German cities.

The incredible jewel-box theater in Barcelona, the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

Finding an Internet cafe after the concert in Paris, and managing to get a taxi home in the wee hours of the morning.

Seeing the musicians applaud Jarvi and make him take a bow alone, repeatedly.

Watching everybody dash into a grocery store before the Cologne concert, because the hotel had no food.

Things I didn't love:

Internet problems in every city.

People smoking everywhere.

My first day from hell: Connecting from Cincinnati through Amsterdam, Austrian Airlines won't let me board 25 minutes before my connecting flight departs, and then tries to sell me a 500 Euro ticket to get to Vienna in time for the symphony concert.

My second day from hell: Arrived in Paris, couldn't get online and after the concert ended up in an Internet cafe at 1:30 a.m. in a touchy neighborhood.

But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything! Thanks for joining me on this whirlwind tour with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Who knows where we'll go next??


Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Scenes from Madrid
Posted at 2:02 AM

The musicians letting conductor Paavo Jarvi take a bow alone, to cheering Madrid crowds in the Auditorio Nacional.

The elevator door at the hotel opens, and out tumble about eight musicians who had been stuck for about 10 minutes between the third and fourth floors. It ranked among the worst tour experience for string players Becky Kruger Fryxell, Steve Fryxell, Charles Snavely, Susan Marshall Peterson and Sylvia Samis. After that, only four at a time take the elevator.

The spotless subway. The long buses that have their own lanes and are programmed to display each stop on a screen as you travel.

The parade on Tuesday with horses, bands, priests and groups of Madrillenos in native folk dress. Turns out, Nov. 9 is the Festival of the Virgin of Almudena, the patron of Madrid.

Crowds of well-dressed people promenading through the streets of Old Madrid on a holiday.

At the Teatro Real, posters advertising the opera season, many conducted by former Cincinnati music director Jesus Lopez-Cobos, now the music director here.

One unhappy musician whose pocket is picked.

At the Prado, seeing the awesome masterpieces, many acquired by Spanish kings. My favorite: Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights.

Eating tapas at 11:30 p.m. in a charming little restaurant that is crammed with a young crowd.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Discount Airlines in Europe
Posted at 6:26 PM

Just like Southwest and Jet Blue, discount airlines are flourishing in Europe. I flew on two of them and had great success, purchasing my cheap tickets over the Web before leaving Cincinnati. It's much better than booking a high-priced, inside-Europe ticket from a travel agent, which is the alternative.

I flew German Wings from Vienna to Stuttgart. Here's my impression: Efficient, on time and orderly. You could purchase breakfast or drinks on the plane. Achtung! You will line up in single file and check everything over the size of a laptop.

I flew to Madrid from Paris Orly Airport on EasyJet. You know it, because the side of the plane says EasyJet.com in six-foot-high letters in bright Hooter's orange.

Orly was empty, just us and people flying to Marrakech. I wasn't sure if I should fly this airline until talking to execs from CFM International, and finding out that EasyJet is a big customer of theirs.

Impression: Easy, on-time flight.

Most amusing announcement, from the stewardess selling perfume: "Gentlemen, you may not be married to JLo, but your wife can still smell like her."

Fashion Report: Austria, Germany, France and Spain
Posted at 5:59 PM

Sorry guys, but half the population wants to know what people are wearing to all those symphony concerts. So here goes:

Vienna, Austria: Short, plaid wool jackets, sometimes over satin skirts. Colored, textured hose is big, plus lots of sleek black. Sensible shoes (after all, you have to catch the Strassenbahn afterward).

Germany: In Stuttgart, the fashions seemed to be straight from Milan. It was continental and sophisticated, with browns, blacks and many touches of bold colors such as pink and yellow. This was a very posh crowd; their Mercedes cars were waiting outside with their drivers.

In Cologne, jeans mingled with satin. Frankfurt was definitely tony. Pashminas were big, and there were sequins, fur, shantung silk and those new "ruched" blouses to die for. I saw one feather wrap.

People did not wear flashy jewelry, but Germany was classic high fashion, a kind of prosperous conservative-chic. Oh, and all the men were in dark suits and ties.

Paris: Need I say more? This is Paris. No jeans and sweatshirts at concerts here! There were pieces of fur on everything: collars, sweaters, skirt hems -- even on handbags. Pointy-toed flats are in, with tiny heels. The accessory of the season is the handbag, slung over a tres chic arm. I saw Gucci, Prada, YSL, Louis Vuitton, all in wonderful colors. Also, black fishnet stockings and red high heels were a knockout, as were off-the-shoulder lycra tops.

According to my Parisian friend, Marion Henrion and her four charming daughters, moon boots are in for young girls. Also, Marion says, ladies are waiting for Nov. 12, when Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel comes out with a new designer line for H&M, a department store chain.

Also big: ribbon belts, big bows on everything and platform shoes are coming back. And very big with the young people: knitting their own scarves.

Spain: People were not fashion savvy at the concert in Madrid, to my surprise. It was a conservative crowd, with both men and ladies in suits. Scarves were big.

Here's the news: Those ponchos seen everywhere in the U.S. are OUT, OUT, OUT!

Sunday, November 07, 2004
Internet frustrations when traveling in Europe
Posted at 5:51 AM

Every country offers a new and often frustrating Internet challenge. (That's how I send my newspaper stories back to the Enquirer, via e-mail. And for blogging, you need a good Internet connection.)

Germany and Austria only had hot spots in hotel lobbies, for which you paid through the nose. (In Stuttgart, I paid about $30 a day to sign on.)

You would think that the French would be high tech -- or at least as wired as the Germans. Mais non, mes amis.

I arrived at my lovely little French hotel in the Latin Quarter at around 1 p.m. Friday, and for the next five hours frantically tried to find a way to get my laptop to connect to the Internet. My deadline was immediately after the Paris concert -- I had to find the Web soon or miss a deadline -- which I haven't done, so far, in 13 years of reporting.

My dial-up connection wouldn't work. The very nice receptionist at my hotel sent me to Starbucks, which has wireless -- but they close at 11 p.m., like most Internet cafes. But the techies who worked there gave me the name of a place in Les Halles that's open all night. It's an area that is a little seedy, especially at night, but, well, I was desperate.

I found the place -- but they wouldn't let me plug in my own laptop. Frankly, the European keyboards are so different, they're a pain to use. Suddenly (insert lightbulb here) I remembered that I had tossed a memory stick in my evening bag. They didn't understand memory stick, but when I pulled it out, they said, "Ah, USB! We can do that." Bingo!

I must say I was the most well-dressed person at that Internet place, but the people working there were kind and patient in explaining how to read tech jargon in French.


On the road with the CSO
Posted at 5:44 AM

Bad news first: The dollar is falling fast. One Euro now equals $1.29. That means a gallon of gas is $5.15. (And you thought you had it bad.)

The good news is that we're in Paris.

But first, here's a nightmare experience that all performers dread. We last left off in Frankfurt, Germany, where the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played its second concert at the Alte Oper on Wednesday. The next day, a cold, rainy Thursday, the musicians boarded buses for a "run-out" concert to Mannheim. (I wisely stayed home with my computer.) What was to have been a 45-minute bus ride turned into two hours, due to a bad wreck on the highway. The buses detoured through little towns to no avail. The road was a parking lot.

They arrived 5 minutes before concert time at Mannheim's sold-out 2,400-seat Rosengarten Auditorium, with the audience waiting patiently in their seats, said orchestra manager Janell Weinstock. But there was another snafu -- the piano soloist, Helene Grimaud, wasn't there yet. She was also stuck in traffic.

The musicians still had to change out of their bluejeans, find their instruments and tune up. At 8:20 p.m., Paavo Jarvi decided to change the order of the program, and start with the Dvorak symphony. (He really had no choice, since he had no soloist.) Grimaud did finally appear, and they played her concerto after intermission. The crowd loved it, Weinstock says. The musicians were back around midnight.

On Friday morning, we all brought our luggage down to the hotel lobby at 6:30 a.m., to load onto the bus to the Frankfurt airport and catch a plane to Paris.

(Footnote: The new musicians contract allows the press to sit on the bus for the first time in at least two decades. Believe me, it helps us out a lot during international travel! Merci beaucoup!)

The Air France fight was fine. On the bus ride into Paris, violinist Sylvia Samis was bemoaning the fact that she'd never been to Paris, and wouldn't see much in the 20 hours they had there. Indeed, most only experienced the short walk from the Novotel Les Halles to the Theatre du Chatelet, where the symphony made its Paris debut.

A huge crowd mobbed the entrance to the Chatelet, and when they opened the doors, the Parisians pushed and shoved like they were at a rock concert.

Seen in the crowd: Pierre Fabre, president and CEO of CFM International, with his charming, Cincinnati-born daughter and about 10 VIPs from the aerospace industry; Cincinnati Symphony board chairman Rick Reynolds, wife Vicky and their daughter Anne, who is living in Paris; trustee Louis Chabut and his wife; and from the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Michael Fisher and Neil Hensley.

The concert was another sell-out -- like nearly every concert on this tour!! -- and the orchestra's performance was stunning. But I looked a few times at the musicians' faces when they had a rest in the music, and they looked bone tired.

"Sometimes, if you have a rest in the music, your eyes just glaze over," says tuba player Michael Thornton.

Small wonder. The next morning, Saturday, they were all on another plane bound for Amsterdam, followed by an hour-long bus ride to Utrecht followed by two hours on the bus to Enschede, the next concert destination.

The concert in Enschede went well. Enschede is a charming town near the German border, and it attracted a mostly German crowd. Paavo's CDs sold better than at any concert on the tour so well.

Sunday is a day of rest!! The musicians were planning to take the 20 minute train ride into Amsterdam to check out the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House and other sights.

Next destination: Madrid!

(Footnote: If you're planning to travel to Paris this fall, don't miss the Turner - Whistler - Monet exhibit at the Grand Palais. C'est magnifique!)

I'll always have Paris
Posted at 5:22 AM

Ticket to see the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Theatre du Chatelet -- $89

80 minutes at Internet cafe in Les Halles -- $6.45

Taxi home from Internet cafe at 1:30 a.m. -- $25.80

Petite cafe latte at Starbucks -- $3.35

Ride on the Paris Metro -- $1.29

Designer handbag on the Rue du Cherche Midi -- $1,160

Being in Paris -- PRICELESS

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
10 ways to tell you're in Deutschland and not in Zinzinnati
Posted at 6:14 PM

1. The Cincinnati question, "Please?" is in the mother tongue ("bitte?")

2. You are only allowed to drive Mercedes, Audi, BMW or Volkswagen.

3. Everyone except the driver may drink beer while the car is moving.

4. Wurst for breakfast; wurst for lunch; wurst for dinner.

5. No George Bush fans here.

6. Wake up to tolling church bells.

7. People smoke like chimneys everywhere.

8. Toilet paper = sandpaper.

9. 1 Euro = $1.25. Ouch!

10. Carbs? Was ist Das?

20 hours in Cologne: The Bishop and my Kurdish taxi driver
Posted at 5:50 AM

If it's Tuesday, it must be Cologne. We rolled out of bed in Stuttgart for what was to be a four-hour bus drive to Cologne. With rain, traffic, and a stop for lunch, it took six. (Paavo left last night by private car for Cologne, presumably so he could get there last night and sleep in. Smart man.)

Our hotel was a Best Western on the outskirts of Cologne -- way, way out, on the other side of the Rhine River! Because the restaurant would not be open later, we were advised to go to the grocery store next door to get food, or as violinist Jim Braid said, "Scavenge for food." I must say, my dinner at midnight after the Cologne concert was singularly mediocre.

But I digress. I decided to take a cab with others downtown early, to check out Cologne's Dom, one of the most spectacular Gothic cathedrals in Europe. At 5:30 p.m., it was already dark, and a light drizzle was falling as we arrived (a 16 Euro cab ride). Bells were tolling for evening Mass. The Dom's interior was cavernous and an organ was rumbing in the distance. As we milled around, awestruck, a priest asked us to step back.

Suddenly, a large processional of magenta-robed, incense-bearing priests filed to the rear of the church, and formed a double line at the entrance. "I think someone important is about to come in," I whispered to violinist Anna Reider, but she was equally clueless. Just then, the Bishop of Cologne entered with much pomp, and proceeded to sprinkle everyone with holy water. We were afraid to budge. Finally, we managed to sneak out and find the Philharmonie concert hall, nearby.

After the concert, I caught a cab back with others, and struck up a conversation in German with the cab driver. The election is the No. 1 news story in Germany right now, and we began to talk about Bush and Kerry.

He told us that he is an Iraqi from Baghdad, and he moved to Germany seven years ago, flying out of Jordan because all the airports in Iraq had been bombed. Then he showed us his shirt, a U.S. Army issue. Just as we were beginning to get a little concerned, he told us that his father is a Kurd, and owns a communications company that is helping the United States. An Army general had given his father some shirts as a gift. He hopes that Kerry will win. He couldn't believe that an election could be decided in one day. (Well, apparently it can't....) Either way, no one knows what the future will hold for Iraq, he shrugged.

It was a good story, anyway!

Headline in today's Die Welt: "Countdown im Kampf ums Weisse Haus." (Countdown in the fight for the White House)

Wednesday: Frankfurt.
Thursday: Mannheim
Friday: Paris!

Monday, November 01, 2004
Top ten tunes on Owen Lee's iPod
Posted at 1:16 PM

Principal bass player Owen Lee, 35, spent three months putting 3,000 songs (that's 18.5 gigabytes for the techies) on his iPod.

Here are his top ten:

"Thank You" -- Led Zeppelin

"Que Sas?" -- Nat King Cole

"Planet Telex" -- Radiohead

J.S. Bach's "Chaconne" -- Arnold Steinhardt

Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 -- Eugen Jochum

Schubert's "Schwanengesang" -- Hermann Prey

"Supervixen" -- Garbage

Mozart's C Major Quintet -- Guarneri Quartet

"Bitchin' Camaro" -- The Dead Milkmen

"Here With Me" -- Dido

Hanging out in Stuttgart
Posted at 11:38 AM

Greetings from Stuttgart, home of Mercedes and Porsche! After last night's concert in Stuttgart's 1956-era Liederhalle, many of the musicians hung out in the lobby and the hotel bar, unwinding until the wee, wee hours of the morning. For some people, that meant 5 a.m.

Yesterday, I took a very efficient and very early German Wings flight from Vienna to Stuttgart, and the sleep deficit is beginning to add up. So, it was pretty hard to get up this morning, a day off for the musicians. We all awoke to a gloomy, rainy day in Stuttgart, with little to do because it's a holiday -- All Saints Day -- and everything but everything is closed.

Taking a poll at breakfast, here's what people were doing: Several musicians were catching a train to Heidelberg. Others were walking around the city, and taking in a "Winter Dream Festival" in the heart of Stuttgart, where there are booths selling "gluhwein" and an ice skating rink. Yes, it really is November!

Violinists Stacey Woolley and Kathryn Robertson Woolley (they got married last year)were going to the Stuttgart Zoo.

Paavo Jarvi was planning to "sleep a lot."

Principal bassist Owen Lee was "chilling out. Anything except being in any kind of vehicle."

Dan Culnan, associate principal cellist, was looking for his luggage that was lost between Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Hard to figure that one out, because they came by charter bus...

Ted Nelson, the new cellist in the orchestra, was going to hike the 900 steps to the top of Stuttgart's Cathedral.

OK, so how did I spend my day? Every red-blooded American male will be jealous. I visited the Porsche Museum in a suburb of Stuttgart -- the only museum open in the whole town. The museum, embedded in the Porsche plant, is a collection of about a dozen racing cars, roadsters and huge engines that you could study close up. (Yes, many people actually did that.)

If I could take one home it would be the 2003 Carrera GT. I also liked the historic Austro Daimler "Sascha" from 1922, designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

Oh, and the prize for most creative goes to a futuristic 1971 model called "Sau" -- which means "Pig" in German. It was painted pink with butcher markings all over it for the individual cuts of pork.

It was interesting to see all the guys walking around these cars in deep awe, some of them taking multiple photos of engines.

Tomorrow: We're off to Cologne by bus. Bye for now!

Sunday, October 31, 2004
Off to a great start
Posted at 6:46 AM

It's hard to believe I've only been in Vienna for a day. While the orchestra got on Slovak Air (not sure that's one I want to fly) for Frankfurt, I walked for miles down the beautiful boulevards and tiny back streets of Wien, with the leaves falling in a warm wind.

The opening concert had been interesting on several levels. Every single seat in the hall was taken. The 7:30 p.m. start time allowed for people right from the office, as well as families; one Harry Potter look-alike sat mesmerized in the front row. This was the stillest crowd I've ever seen; they sat like statues, even through a 70-minute symphony. They may be polite, but their applause was thunderous.
Jarvi was happy with the audience response.

"I feel very elated, and extremely happy with the way (the tour) started," he said later backstage, still a bit breathless as he greeted a line of well-wishers. Seated nearby, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev said when he found out that Jarvi was conducting, he had to be there.

"Of course, I like the work of Paavo in general, but it was the first time I heard him with the Cincinnati orchestra. To play Mahler in Vienna, with such a quality, it's a very good orchestra," he said, shaking his head in disbelief. "It didn't look like it was difficult for the musicians to pull it off. I just want to congratulate him."

This morning, I got up at 6 a.m. to get ready for an early-morning interview at the Augarten Palais, home of the Vienna Boys Choir, where I was meeting Benjamin Kleykamp, 12, of Mason, and his parents Steve and Alexandra. The Kleykamps have moved into an apartment overlooking the palace to be near their son, one of their four children. (They still own their Mason home.) It was fun to traipse around the elegant 17th-century palace which serves as the choir school, while photographer Lukas Beck took pictures of Benjamin rehearsing (yes, even on Saturday), and in other places around the campus.

Later, I walked all over Vienna, visiting old haunts, including the palace where I once lived as a student, now a "House of Music," a sort of interactive classical music museum. (Cincinnati's Classical Music Hall of Fame should check this out.)

Dinner in Vienna was revealing. Where once I might have eaten knodel (dumplings) or Wiener schnitzel, I ate at a very trendy vegetarian restaurant. Nevertheless, it was full of cigarette smoke. Vienna changes, but slowly.

Next stop: Stuttgart!

Saturday, October 30, 2004
Getting there
Posted at 5:00 AM

Mental note to self: Don't take transatlantic flight and leave only one hour to make your connection.

I almost missed the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's debut with Paavo Jarvi in Vienna's Konzerthaus Friday night, thanks to Austrian Air, my connection from Amsterdam to Vienna on Friday morning, after an all-night flight from Cincinnati. There's a rule in Europe that you must arrive at the flight 30 minutes before departure. That apparently includes connections. They closed the door. Geschlossen.

Thanks to two extremely nice KLM agents who put me on a KLM plane, I made the concert with two hours to spare, grabbing "dinner," a little sandwich, at intermission. The other good news is KLM found my luggage, misplaced by Austrian Air. Otherwise, it might still be there, lost in space.

But when I arrived at Vienna's concert hall that evening, to my surprise, I discovered that a smiliar snafu had occurred in Paris, WITH HALF THE MEMBERS OF THE CINCINNATI SYMPHONY. Again, it was Austrian Air.

Their flight from Cincinnati Tuesday night left an hour late. (The 100 musicians traveled in two planes.) "By the time we got from one terminal to the next, we were toast," says Rick Vizachero, bassist.

After a 10-hour layover (some players actually took the train into Paris for a few hours), they arrived in Vienna Wed. night at 11 p.m.

Now here's another potential nightmare: Pianist Helene Grimaud, the soloist, was also laid up in Paris, missed the rehearsal and barely made the concert. (No word yet if Austrian Air was involved....)

But we all made it -- orchestra, soloist and music critic!

Friday night, the orchestra sounded spectacular in Vienna's packed Konzerthaus, and afterwards, the musicians were upbeat. Several, such as clarinetists Ixi Chen and Richie Hawley, arrived a few days earlier to take in the sights, including a concert by the Vienna Phiharmonic.

Factoid from Ixi: Austria is not as wired as Germany. Vienna has only 23 hot spots in the whole city. (You don't know how lucky you are to be reading this...)

Oh, and by the way, who should be in town to conduct the Vienna Phil but famed Russian maestro Valery Gergiev, who was at the concert and spoke backstage about how impressed he was.

Next: Concert impressions from Vienna, how Paavo felt about it afterwards, and a little visit to the Augarten Palace, where the Vienna Choir Boys go to school. Wiedersehen!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Getting Ready
Posted at 1:16 PM

Ten years ago -- during the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's last European tour in 1995, the orchestra celebrated its 100th birthday in Switzerland, weathered flooding in Northern Germany and played in Vienna's golden Musikverein.
I helped break the news that Keith Lockhart (touring on the road with us) was confirmed as the next conductor of the Boston Pops.
Ten years later, who knows what this tour will bring? For the musicians - and me - the tour will be grueling. It's a different city every day or two, racking up 11,800 miles in two weeks. Besides the international flight to get there, I'll be taking four European flights to keep up with the musicians, from Austria to Germany to France to Spain.
The orchestra is playing again in Germany, the very center of classical music, with concerts slated for Stuttgart, Cologne and Frankfurt. One of the tour stops - Mannheim - is legendary for the 18th-century Mannheim Orchestra (now long gone) and the composers who developed the symphony into what it is today.
On Nov. 5, the Cincinnati Symphony will perform for the first time in 110 years in Paris. Personally, I can't wait for that one.
But first - Vienna, the first stop and one of my favorite cities in the world, because I lived there once-upon-a-time in college. Vienna is a music capital, home of the Viennese waltz, the Strauss family and the world's greatest composers - by birth or by adoption - from Beethoven and Mozart to Mahler and Schoenberg.
Vienna (or Wien in German) is a lot like Cincinnati. It has endured world wars, yet it never seems to change. The Vienna Boys Choir has sung Sunday Mass in the Hofburg Chapel for more than 500 years. Long before Starbucks, coffee houses were a way of life. You can still order a slice of Sachertorte, invented at the nearby Hotel Sacher (or so the legend goes), and wash it down with a "kleiner Brauner" (small coffee with cream). Oh, and be sure to ask for "schlagobers" - whipped cream on top.
The best way to get around is still the little red and white Strassenbahn (street cars) that dot the Ringstrasse around the inner city.
The orchestra arrives Wednesday and has a day to recover before its Friday night show in the Konzerthaus.
Stay tuned as I go along for the ride on planes, buses, trains, taxis and the Strassenbahn. For now - auf wiedersehen!

About the blogger:
Janelle Gelfand Janelle Gelfand has covered classical music for The Enquirer since 1993. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she has a bachelor of music degree from Stanford University and earned a masters in piano and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Janelle has toured with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra annually to Carnegie Hall and has covered tours to the West Coast, East Coast and Florida. In 1995, the orchestra's 100th anniversary season, she traveled with the symphony to Europe - its first European tour in 25 years. Last November she sent reports home from Japan during Paavo Jarvi's first international tour with the orchestra.