Young European Strings at Summa Cum Laude, Vienna

From the 4th until the 9th of July, a group of seventeen Intermediate Orchestra members, led by the capable Isobel Howard-Cordone of YESCO calibre, descended upon Vienna accompanied by our two directors and assorted parents/guardians.

The Festival is an annual international youth music gathering for choirs, bands and orchestras and its main attraction is that concerts take place in the city’s two main classical concert venues, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus. The Golden Hall, together with Carnegie Hall and the Berliner Philharmonie is one of the most prestigious concert venues in the world. It is also the residence of the renowned Wiener Philharmoniker, one of the top two or three orchestras around. Having the opportunity to play in such a venue was certainly something too compelling to resist, despite the high cost of the trip.

Alas, the main feature of this trip turned out to be not music-making, but coach-journeying. The schedule set up by the organisers included plenty of rushing around to the various rehearsals, concerts and events, only in order to wait at the destinations. A truly bizarre sense of space-time-continuum dominated the mind of the chaperone assigned to us, whose main priority seemed to remain on good terms with our very own mercurial Serbian driver, no matter what.

Apart from this, however, taking part in the festival was a great experience for the children and adults alike. The culmination of the trip was certainly the morning performance in the Golden Hall; standing right there on that stage, just as the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra do…and it’s hard to describe the feeling of elation at the view of the hall, and at the sound that it reflected back at us and the players.

In our free time we were also able to do plenty of outdoors activities: for example going to the park and visit an old friend, an illustrious German colleague who made Vienna his home. And who said that Mr. Brahms cannot not wear a cap?

All in all, the Summa Cum Laude tour meant so much to everyone: performing music to the highest standard, having fun, learning from each other, adapting to changes, coping with the unexpected, and realising that music can make a world of difference.

…on to the next trip please…