My First Tour with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra

5 November 2018
Anna Matz

Anna Matz



The Lucerne Festival Orchestra is an ensemble with a very long and strong tradition.

As far as I remember these three letters “LFO” have always been an indicator for excellent orchestral playing by the best musicians of the world and reflect the essence of how an orchestra should work: a combination of friendship and outstanding quality of every single musician. And of course, it’s not possible to talk about the LFO without mentioning Claudio Abbado. Sadly I never had the chance to meet him in person or even to attend one of his concerts but I consider myself very happy to be a part of his heritage right now in my orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which has always been a very important part of the LFO. So even if I didn’t have the chance to play with Abbado in person, I have the privilege, as a member of the MCO, to play with people who were musically educated by him.

So how was it for me, the “newbie”, to enter this grown group of musicians and friends of the famous LFO? In fact it was very easy. Being surrounded by a lot of my dear MCO colleagues I didn’t have any problems feeling comfortable in the orchestra. And of course, as our music world is quite small, I knew a few people already from playing in other orchestras and ensembles and I felt immediately very at home.

Starting the tour in Milan, the home of LFO Music Director Riccardo Chailly, we played our first concert in the beautiful Scala and enjoyed in our spare time the delicious Italian food such as fresh pasta with truffles or the famous Risotto milanese before we left for our next destination on the other side of the world.
The main part of the tour then took place in Shanghai, located in the west of China and apparently currently the biggest city of the world in terms of the incredible number of 24 million inhabitants. Shanghai is extremely impressive. Not only does it convince any visitor with its outstanding architecture like the famous Lujiazui skyline as well as with historic buildings around “The Bund”. Sometimes one even gets the feeling to be somewhere in France like, for example, around the Shanghai Symphony Hall, where we played our concerts. The hall is located in the beautiful French quarter of Shanghai, surrounded by many international and traditional Chinese restaurants and shops and even quite authentic French bakeries.

Shanghai is full of history and tradition as well. I had the chance to visit the the Jing’an temple for example, one of the most famous Buddhist temples of China, which was built in 247 AD and is now to be found in the middle of shopping malls as a part of the vibrant city life of Shanghai. And just as time around the building has changed, our modern lifestyle has also found its way into the daily routine of the monks, who can be spotted looking as much at their mobile phones as we “normal people” do.

Even though the orchestra’s schedule was quite tight and we played a concert almost every night, we had the chance to experience a bit the lifestyle of Shanghai, meaning: we found great food, roof top cocktail bars in front of the impressive skyline of the “Bund” and amazing Chinese massages in hidden places.

What I definitely have to mention as well is how enthusiastically the Chinese audience welcomed us. When we arrived at our hotel we found a letter from the Chinese promoter telling us the most important things about what we should expect in China and what we should be aware of, including the fact that we shouldn’t feel confused if the Chinese audience wouldn’t be as outgoing as the audiences we are used to from concerts in Europe. But we couldn’t have been more surprised in the end by the loud clapping and the enthusiastic bravos we got after every concert. We were all very impressed by how warm we were treated by them so I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’re all looking very much forward to coming back soon, either to Shanghai or to any other place in the world which we can discover then and bring in exchange our music there.

Photos: Geoffroy Schied / Anna Matz / Alena Leuteritz