What a Joy

10 July 2020
Michiel Commandeur

Michiel Commandeur



It is hard to know where to start for writing this tour diary. The orchestra has not played together now for more than four months. Because of the corona crisis, seven of our tours have already been completely cancelled. Travels to New York, Prague, Heidelberg, Croatia and so on... all gone.

So it is a hard time right now for the MCO. We manage to see each other some times on Zoom meetings, where the board tells us about the current position of the orchestra and where the members tell the rest about their personal situation at home.

Then suddenly there was one project, at last, that could happen, a livestream with the great harpist Xavier de Maistre in Lübeck for the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. In order to keep the necessary distance between each other on stage, we had to be a small group. Only string players and just 14 of us and we all had to play from our own desk. No classical "desk partner” this time. This was a completely different format than we had originally planned, but still! I got very excited by the idea of playing together again and seeing some of my fellow players.

I decided to travel by car because I find the train and especially planes still a bit scary right now, and arrived at our hotel in the beautiful town of Lübeck. As soon as I entered, it was clear that they were very strict on the corona rules. There were one-way lines drawn on the floors and when moving inside, one always had to wear a mask. It was so strange to enter a hotel room after being at home for four months. And I suddenly realised that I had not been at home that long since we started the MCO more than 23 years ago. Fortunately, it felt comfortable straight away.

So off to the first rehearsal, a really exciting feeling! I met a couple of my dearest colleagues (but of course, with around 30 of them missing) and we all cheered when we met again. But no hugging. No kissing. No touching at all. All with distance and masks. So with some laughs, we started playing the Mozart Divertimento.

What a joy! And how quickly everybody was able to adapt themselves to the orchestra again. It took a little while, but then all of us recognized that "MCO feeling" again. And when we rehearsed the Bartók Divertimento – a piece that is so much a part of our musical DNA – we sometimes had the feeling that we were back completely. After some nice Schweinshaxe in a typical North German restaurant (with masks!) and a “Lübecker-Aquavit”, we all had a good night's sleep in our big hotel beds.