Searching for a common sound

27 October 2020
Hildegard Niebuhr

Hildegard Niebuhr



One would think that the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, after more than 20 years on tour, knows all the eventualities of travel, and any big surprises no longer exist. That changed suddenly in 2020. Now you feel like you are in a vortex in which you have no choice but to give yourself to the spin cycle, even if some human beings might be better made for the delicate cycle.

So it happens that a journey no longer begins with packing your suitcase anymore, but with a COVID-19 test for most of us . What follows is the constant uncertainty of what the next day will look like. Only when you have actually arrived in your hotel room do you believe that the project is taking place – only when you are actually on stage do you believe that the concert is happening. But more on that later.

Thanks to generous funding from the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media through "Neustart Kultur", we could spend a few days on workshops on topics that are important for the future of our orchestra. On this project in Baden-Baden it was all about Community and Sustainability. After a short time I realized what a great opportunity this was, especially thanks to our board and our office staff who put a lot of effort into preparing the workshops. I was just as enthusiastic that it is possible to have constructive discussions with up to 20 people plus at least as many different opinions. Some ideas were more "blue-sky" than others, but mostly these workshops were about concretely and realistically thinking about what we want for our 'family'. As a relatively new member, I was very touched to see how this can work. The 'family' has had practice over the years.

In between we had a lot of time to enjoy what Baden-Baden has to offer: the good air, the intoxicating autumn colors, healing water in the thermal baths, wonderful walks over hills and through forests or just through the beautiful old town, endless shopping opportunities, Käsespätzle and a glass of wine (or two… anyway, we now have a lot of practice writing down our information!).