NYO Tour to Vienna 2013


A tutors perspective

The 2013 NYO Tour to Vienna was a tour of firsts; first without Derek as conductor, and without Margaret on the tutoring team. It was also one of the easiest and least stressful tours I have been involved with since becoming a tutor in 2007. This was almost entirely due to the fantastic supportive environment created by the lovely group of musicians who participated. From the very start everyone just had a great time, creating their own entertainment on the coach journeys (no DVD's at all - another first!) singing, chatting and laughing the whole way. There was no complaining when our bus travelled via Munich in the rush hour and arrived over an hour (and with significantly less comfort breaks) later than the other coach.

The first morning's rehearsal set up the rest of the tour. Everyone was in situ early, and practicing before the conductors arrived. I don't recall ever seeing such commitment at the start of a week away. As a result the standard of playing rapidly improved. The first concert at Gustav Adolph Kirche was extremely well received by the coach loads of Slovakians, and passing by Viennese, who attended. We must thank the kind Slovakian audience member who provided a last minute translation on the day! Subsequent rehearsals were used to fine tune specific sections of the repertoire and the orchestra, and the final rehearsal ended in a celebration of music making with numerous members of the orchestra swapping instruments!

Unfortunately we faced extreme Austrian doggedness on the Sunday, when officials at Schonbrunn Palace refused to allow the Orchestra to play their concert in the shade. The temperature was 41 degrees, a record for Vienna by some way, and there were plenty of shaded areas available. In fact NYO played in the main shaded area outside the front of the palace in 2009; I have the photos to prove it! However the palace was adamant. Despite our music rep making the necessary arrangements a week in advance in response to the weather forecast, they would not budge. The shaded areas were for an emergency exit, horses, a wedding (which did not materialise) and too close to the offices and would disturb the officials. Once it was confirmed the only option would be for the musicians to play in the middle of the sunny courtyard with no breeze and in extreme temperatures, we had no choice but to cancel the concert. This was a disappointment to all, but despite having carried all the heavy instruments down the long driveway, once again the young people in NYO showed their true professionalism. They all helped to reload the van and coach with very little complaining.

Thank fully we had arranged to go to the outside swimming pool that afternoon. Having attended this facility the day before, and everyone having such a good time, it seemed sensible to do this again after the outside concert. I don't think any of us have been so happy to see a pool as we were that day! After the heat and stress of dealing with the concert situation, it was wonderful to be able to cool off in the grounds of the palace.

At this point, observers might have been forgiven for thinking this tour was more about free time than about music making. With a concert cancelled and two afternoons spent in the pool, we had spent more time swimming that playing! However, this served to make the orchestra even more cohesive as a group. All ages mixed and there were no cliques. It was lovely to see everyone just having so much fun and getting on together. The evening before the orchestra had visited Prater Park, Vienna's fairground originally built for the aristocracy. With the tutors opting for the fairly tame cat and mouse ride, some of the musicians made a beeline for some ridiculous rides with names like "The Ejector Seat"! I did have the tour insurance with me...but I don't think it covered activities like that!

On the last full day we visit the Haus der Musik, an interactive music museum in Vienna. Exhibits range from traditional displays about the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to opportunities to create your own waltz using a dice, hearing what Jupiter sounds like, and exploring alternative notation through sound. Much fun was had by individuals conducting the virtual Vienna Philharmonic with the youngest member of NYO showing great potential as a conductor! This afternoon NYO were back at Schonbrunn for the final concert of the week in the Orangerie. Thankfully this was much more straightforward. The orchestra unloaded and set up quickly and without fuss, optimising rehearsal time, which was good as the audience were super keen to get into the venue! This concert was a resounding success. The orchestra played fantastically well as a whole, and there were some beautiful solo moments too, from the cello in Poet and Peasant, and the trumpet in Blumine, to the horns in the Hubler. The full audience thoroughly enjoyed each and every piece, showing their appreciation with a long standing ovation at the end, no doubt buoyed up by Chris' camp clapping in the Radetzky March! We collected just under 800 euros from this concert alone - another first!

Weather struck (or not!) again on the last night. The forecast of a super storm forced the organisers of the Vienna film festival to close for the evening. This was disappointing because NYO had planned to attend to watch Lang Lang live in Berlin. We consulted the met office website, and the satellite images showed a storm stretching from just north of Vienna all the way to Berlin. In the end the storm did not materialise, however we were able to have a relaxing last evening in this beautiful city.

On the final day, some of the older members of the group handed out some "awards", for specific members, tutors and for each section of the orchestra. This was a lovely way to celebrate an extremely positive week in Vienna. Whilst we may have had to cancel playing one concert and watching another due to extremes in weather, the members of NYO had shown that they were professional, flexible and committed to making the tour a success. I would like to thank you all for creating some fantastic music, for helping each other out without complaining, and for making the week so much fun. Well done everyone!


Photo's to follow shortly.



The Nottingham Youth Orchestra