The historical City of Kronach (birthplace of Lucas Cranach, sen.) is worth a trip if you like good beer, hearty food, bucolic scenery, history, painting or castles. You care for nothing but music? Ok, there's plenty of that here, too. What attracted me to this beautiful place was the project "Kronacher Orchesternachmittag" (Orchestra Afternoon Kronach).
Four times a year, an ad hoc ensemble of amateur musicians rehearses and performs music under a professional musician's conductorship. Today it was Johannes Klumpp's turn. The young violin teacher conducted our group of 1 double bass, 2 violoncellos, 5 violas, more than a baker's dozen of violins, 1 percussionst, 2 clarinets, 3 flutes, 1 oboe and 1 trumpet (all ages from high school girl to retiree) and tamed or cajoled us into really making music.
Tschaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite (we played the March, the Dance of the Sugar Fairy, the Russian Dance and the first half of the Flower Waltz) sounded really convincing once we followed Johannes's precise tempo, his critique (always delivered tongue-in-cheek and with a sincere smile) and his advice on technique.
Besides my viola, I had brought along some flyers for the German Viola Society (DVG), the ACMP and some sheet music by my teacher. The two-hour rehearsal was interrupted by a short break for coffee and cake and left everybody smiling, happy, proud and just a little bit exhausted. The next installment of this endevor will take place on Saturday, 2009-06-20 with Monika Herr conducting a shortened version of - yes! - Ravel's "Bolero".
Afterwards, I enjoyed some asparagus and the local variety of bratwurst at a typical Franconian restaurant, the nearby "Glockengießer" (bell foundry). Shortly after I had dug into my dinner, the sound of the "Russian Dance" filled the room - it was the ringtone of the inn's telephone.
Last weekend was special in that there were a lot of music-related events for me, leading to trips of all in all 450 miles around southern Germany - a record for me in the last 5 years.
After the meeting, the Semiramis Quartet played us their fine interpretation of Beethoven's op. 18 no. 4 in c minor and Mendelssohn's op. 12 in E flat major. What a treat!
On Sunday, I went to hear the "Marienstraßenorchester Fürth". Two violins, one viola, an accordeon, a guitar and a bassoon make up this lively ensemble. They played some Klezmer tunes, took a short break and came back with some Irish standards. Their performance spiced up a local pottery, woodworking and arts & crafts market.
In the evening, my violin teacher had invited a select group to a recital of his compositions and arrangements for two violins. He and his musical partner from the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra - who had only moments before played in a three-hour performance of the orchestra - gave us a sparkling, joyful, moving concert lasting more than two hours. Substantial parts of the program were performed on violins designed by Alexander Lipinski.
Mr. Lipinski, a dapper octogenarian, great-grandson of the Polish violin virtuoso and composer Karol Lipinski, attended the concert and seemed very pleased with the sound of his brainchildren.