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Sun November 10, 2002
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"The greatest snapshots of our greatest festivalensemble-photographers"

Mon September 16, 2002
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Berlin: The journey to Berlin took almost 6 hours and there was a long queue to check into the hotel. Time for lunch and then to go to the world famous "Philharmonie" for our concert of the Missa Solemnis. It was an honour and a privilege to be able to make music in such a wonderful concert hall. We all felt inspired!! Then a short walk to the Sony Centre in the Potsdamer Platz for a farewell dinner. These 5 weeks have been intense and music has brought people together from around the world. The evening closed with embraces, stories and tears - the time has flown quickly by - and saying farewell is sad. Thanks to all who took part. After a short break I´ll be working on the plans for 2003 - hope you´ll apply again!!

Sun September 15, 2002
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Bonn: We were divided into two flights for the return flight from Athens to Frankfurt. All arrived safely with surprisingly no luggage lost or mislaid. The photos show the rehearsals of Fidelio which we performed that evening to a standing ovation in the Bonn Beethoven Festival. There was no respite however - alarm calls were booked for 5:30am for the train trip to Berlin. Helmuth Rilling smiles wryly as he hears this news...!!! Look at the portrait of Beethoven signed by all members of the FCO and dedicated to Mr. Beitz (Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung) without whose generosity the Berlin concert could not take place.

Thu September 12, 2002
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Athens: Transporting 200 people plus cellos and double basses from Germany to Greece is no easy task. We were divided into three flights - the first leaving at 8am and the last at 9:30pm. The last group checked into the hotel in Athens shortly before 3am - tired but inspired by the view of the Akropolis which some were able to see from the hotel roof! The next day was spent by many sight-seeing. Some took in the historical sights of ancient Athens, while others wandered around the old town savouring the delights of the meat and fish market. Then - can you believe it - shortly before our open air concert, it poured with rain for nearly an hour! Would the concert take place? Nerves all round. The Greeks weren´t worried though, telling us that the weather had been playing funny games all Summer. An army of cleaners appeared See the video), wiping the amphitheatre seats free of rain and setting our stage up. We performed the Missa Solemnis in this awesome setting to over 3.000 visitors and not one single additional drop of rain. Zeus was surely benignly looking down on us... Rather than fly straight back to Germany on the next day, we stayed down on the Peleponese coast - it was a chance to catch up on sleep, swim or meditate before the Bonn concert.

Sun September 8, 2002
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Here come the photos of our last days in Stuttgart. Three days of hard work ending with our last concert followed by a party at Hospitalhof. So it is up and off to Athens, Bonn and Berlin. See our ensembles during the rehearsals for Beethovens Missa Solemnis (note the poor unemployed Double-Bassoon player having to occupy herself reading the latest news about Prince William loosing his hair...), one of our beautiful violinists looks at the magnificent tenor Jonas Kaufmann. And guess who won the first prize (a handsigned portrait of L.v.B., drawn by choir member Laszlo Norbert-Endre) in this years "Red Checkered Jacket"-contest? See for yourselves! Sorry, there will be no daily news until monday, Sept. 16 because there aren´t so many internet terminals in Athen´s Tavernae...
Hollie will try his best to be back online as soon as possible!

Fri September 6, 2002
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The first shot today is not of the FCO, but of Sir Roger Norrington and the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart who have been entrancing audiences this last week with their ongoing cycle of the Beethoven symphonies. Nearly every FCO member has been visiting these concerts and afterwards most move on to the "Hospitalhof" for a drink and a chat including staff members Hollie, Birgit and Tobias. The Canadians only managed to hear the first half of Norrington´s concert yesterday as they were invited by their Consul, Theo Schweiker, to an evening meal in a well known Stuttgart restaurant. This is the second year that the Canadian Consul in Stuttgart has extended such an invitation and the gesture was again greatly appreciated not just by the large Canadian contingent among the FCO but also by the author of these lines who went along to represent our organisation. Today we rehearsed for our chamber music concert in the morning followed by the midday public concert (the video today shows an impassioned Gernot Süßmuth conducting Beethoven). More Beethoven followed in the afternoon - this time a full choir and orchestra rehearsal of the Missa Solemnis with Helmuth Rilling. Tonight is the last of our "Lecture Concerts". On Sunday we have a marathon evening...Missa Solemnis plus the ninth symphony..and sometime inbetween we must find time to pack our bags, wash our clothes and not forget our passport for the flights to Athens on Monday!

Tue September 3, 2002
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After the late return from Eberbach Monastery, FCO members and staff were allowed a few extra hours in bed on Saturday morning and so rehearsals began in the afternoon. Choir and orchestra seperated to rehearse the music for our second chamber/a-cappella concert. Later on the run through of the semi staged production of Fidelio lasted well into the night so there were only a very few technical matters to sort out on Sunday morning. The concert performance was not only a "first" for the FCO but also for Helmuth Rilling and many of the cast. Stuttgart had never seen or heard anything like it - and applauded loud and long!! Afterwards the Bachakademie held a party to celebrate - here shots of smiling musicians after having replenished their lost energies with plenty of food and drink (...incidentally the lavish buffet prepared by our "Hausmeister" Michael couldn´t sustain the onslaught of so many hungry young people....I have never seen food disappear so fast...!!!). Yesterday, Monday, the Stuttgart concert going public came to the Domkirche St. Eberhard to hear in the FCO in a mixed programme. For many it was the first time they had heard pieces by,amongst others, Bruckner or Shostakovich but after hearing the young musicians perform this concert I don´t think they´ll forget either the music or the artists. It was a moving evening. More news on Friday.

Sat August 31, 2002
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The english clarinetists, Sally and Andrew enjoy a drink at our evening bar "Zum Hospitalhof". This has become our regular meeting point in the evenings after rehearsals or concerts - the attraction lies not only in the good conversation but also in the cheapest beer in town in addition to all types of music - see the video for an FCO demonstration of the "salsa"! Closing time is before midnight but on Thursday it was earlier as an early morning start was programmed - 200 musicians travelled in 4 buses and a fleet of cars from Stuttgart to Eberbach Monastery. Last year we sang the Messa per Rossini in this historic 12th century building - this year we were the first ever group to perform an opera in the monastery! Times change!! Hollie´s photos show moments from the dress rehearsal during the afternoon. That we all fitted onto a small stage is a compliment to Dieter Bernhardt - the man in our team who silently masterminds all the technical side to our operations - and without whom we would have trouble getting anywhere. But we got there and back - the last bus returned to Stuttgart at 02:30 in the morning after a great concert - the audience of the Rheingau Festival giving us a standing ovation. So no need really then for the shot of Nick from a monastery window.... perhaps hoping or praying that all goes well............

Thu August 29, 2002
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guest comments again...The last three days we have spent rehearsing Fidelio in the morning and afternoon sessions followed by Lecture Concerts on tuesday and wednesday evening. During breaks a large queue of members formed at our internet terminals (cordially provided by Apple Computers Germany). After the Lecture Concerts we enjoyed a drink at the FCO club (how did Hollie get this camera inside???), dancing, laughing and all of us having a good time. Then, today, the rehearsal of Fidelio "in scene" continued. Now, everything is packed and everyone is prepared for the concert in the Eberbach Monastary tomorrow evening. Due to the travel and the concert in Kloster Eberbach, our next update with more news will be on Saturday.

Mon August 26, 2002
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Todays guest comments by Tobias. For the reason why, click here... Saturday was a sad day, as we had to leave the Salem College. Some of us were really unhappy, even trying to hurt themselves so they could stay longer... Simba waved a last goodbye with his left eyebrow. After a two hour bus ride we arrived in Stuttgart. See Hollie and his favorite groupies on a beautiful Sunday morning just before and the rest of the ensemble during the opening ceremony of the Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart in the Neues Schloss. Sunday evening most of us enjoyed the first concert in the Beethoven Hall. Bachs mass b-minor was performed by the Gächinger Kantorei & Bach-Collegium Stuttgart (conductor: Helmuth Rilling). Todays concert (programme) was the first for the Festivalensemble in a sold-out Mozartsaal. Pretty complicated was the lining up of the crowd for their stage entering choreography... But then all went well and now we´re facing a nice good night drink in "our" club in the Hospitalhof (sorry, no camera allowed). Next Update: Thursday August 29.
Fri August 23, 2002
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Yesterday evening we had the chance to watch a video, a comedy which cheered us all up.....everyone is feeling sad about leaving this wonderful place! Most of this morning was spent on the "dress rehearsal" for the concert this evening, which was sold out! In the afternoon we took the opportunity to pack, or practice Iaido, a Japanese martial art which keeps Friedemann fit. The choir had to warm up outside, as the hall was full to bursting. No dinner until after the concert, but everybody was exited and full of anticipation, the programme of Brahms, Schubert, Wagner, Susato, Vivaldi etc was extraordinarily well received by the local audience, even though it exceeded two hours! The highlight was the final choir piece. which Maria dedicated to flood victims both in Venezuela and Germany. After the concert both choir and orchestra were in a riotous mood, produced no doubt by hunger on the one hand and exitement on the other....however our kitchen staff had done us proud with a marvellous buffet of smoked salmon, artichokes, shrimps and various other exotic delicasies. The choir thanked the cook and his staff for their enormous efforts with a (very loud!) rendering of " Salseo" followed by a Negro Spiritual. Then the brass players serenaded the kitchen staff, who definitely deserve a big thankyou for their work these two weeks. So ended our final day in Salem - more news on Sunday after our removal to Stuttgart.
Thu August 22, 2002
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Today was the last choir rehearsal up at Spetzgart - time for the voice teachers to do their traditional farewell "item" for the chorus, which included guest star Hannes Läubin singing tenor after only three singing lessons! Standing ovations for Doris,Sabine, Constanze, Peter and Christian, who also introduced the item from a historical research point of view.........if we're lucky, we'll hear the item again tomorrow night after the concert. Maria worked hard at the rhythm for "Salseo" (see video) while down at Härlen the rehearsals for "Fidelio" continued, our three horn-players playing exellently as ever.Some of us got together in the double-bass players' quarters for a bite to eat and drink, but some of the others preferred badminton or cricket, with a little improvisation from the fields for the stumps! Hard to believe it's our second-last day in these wonderful surroundings! More tomorrow......
Wed August 21, 2002
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Simba the dog revelling in the constant attention he receives from all the participants in the hope of receiving an extra snack or two although he wasn´t too interested in playing with Tobias as the video shows. Today we had complete run-throughs of the staging for Fidelio - look at the photos of Jonas Kaufmann and Amanda Mace as Florestan and Leonore plus Franz-Josef Selig as Rocco while the rest of the cast look on attentively. You´ll also see some new faces on the podium - these are the conducting students who have been studying with Rilling. Today they had their chance to direct excerpts from the opera. The evening meal shows more members of the cast (Jimmy Taylor & Friedemann Röhlig among others) plus faces from the orchestra. Elisabeth sadly left us today to return to Stuttgart to organise the opening concert of Bach´s B minor mass in this year´s European Music Festival. Our first concert there is on August 26 and we´ll be moving north to Stuttgart this Saturday. The weather is still good, despite the occasional drop of rain and warm enough as I write (3 minutes to midnight!) for people to still be outside chatting and enjoying each other´s company. More news tomorrow.

Tue August 20, 2002
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Last night as some checked their emails and read the "Daily News", others formed an impromtu jazz band and afterwards the pianist was persuaded from jumping through the window.Today the choir rehearsed the stage movements for "Fidelio" during the afternoon and taking advantage of the afternoon break Hannes Läubin, our trumpet professor, fulfilled a long held wish to have some private singing lessons. Is he a future "Cavarodossi"? Watch this space! Norbert Schmitt-Lauxmann listens to a playback and two violas lie on the grass. Pictures follow by Hollie who dived and weaved between bodies and legs to give you the "unofficial" version of our annual "offical" group photo for the press which was held in bright sunshine - the clouds opened later - but not for long. The brief wet spell didn´t stop our intrepid horn players from playing - nor did it stop Will and Shawn from bringing in a willing guest to practise excerpts from "The Mikado". But as we will all rediscover tomorrow - Gilbert and Sullivan is no match for Beethoven.
Mon August 19, 2002
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Fresh from our day out yesterday, choir and orchestra plunged into rehearsals of the Missa Solemnis while up at Spetzgart Castle, Leonore, Florestan and Don Pizarro (Amanda Mace, Jonas Kaufmann and Dietrich Henschel) went through the stage directions of Fidelio with Ernst Poettgen. Additional members of the cast (James Taylor, Sybilla Rubens and Franz-Josef Selig plus some of the others again) can be seen in the informal photos with Helmuth Rilling, taken outside the main rehearsal hall. We played through the Gabrieli pieces for the first time tonight which made for a long day for some. However - some of us are gluttons for punishment and love to rise with the birds and jog up and down mountains - hence some very early morning photos of Bronnie and Friedl on their morning run. Trombone players take life more serenely despite being at all of today´s rehearsals - here photos of Wolfram Arndt with his toddler and playing in perfect solitude to the countryside. Nick waited for the orchestra to arrive...

Sun August 18, 2002
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Today was a free day. Almost everybody decided to come on the boat trip from Überlingen to the Island of Mainau then to Meersburg for an hour´s stop over before returning - again on the boat - to Überlingen. The photos speak for themselves.......
Sat August 17, 2002
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For some our few hours respite after a heavy day are too much! Look at the first photo! Today rehearsals of the Schubert began with violas, cellos and double basses plus male choir at 09:30, followed by further rehearsals of Brahms and music from South America. Then straight into the first rehearsal with stage director Ernst Poettgen of the closing scene of "Fidelio". Again this was a moving experience - Mr. Poettgen explained the meaning of the German text to the mostly non-German speakers. Beethoven´s plea for freedom and tolerance inspired us all! The following photos show the choir learning the text of Fidelio which they have to memorise for the concerts - using the break after lunch to lie on the grass, enjoy the surroundings and also to study. The afternoon was spent rehearsing the Missa Solemnis and Fidelio with full choir, soloists and orchestra. Tomorrow is a free day.....we´re looking forward to it - don´t get the wrong idea: despite the many photos of people relaxing here - the photos that we publish on the net keep you in touch with our musicians whether at work or at leisure!
Fri August 16, 2002
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An early start this morning to welcome the Minister President of the State of Baden-Württemberg who paid us a visit - interrupting his holidays nearby. He and his wife were with us to hear Helmuth Rilling conduct excerpts from Beethoven´s Fidelio and to meet all the professors and staff involved in this international project. After a stay of nearly 2 hours he and his wife departed to resume their vacation after having warmly greeted the nearly 200 members of the orchestra and choir from 28 countries. Work continued.......despite the hot weather. Peter got re-acquainted with Jessica whom he coached last year and Christian was caught red-handed by Hollie`s camera.......!!!! Some super shots of the other voice trainers will give you an idea of the intensive coaching that the singers receive daily. Further shots of Simba the dog eating a cheese and ham bun which we had saved for him - some shots of Sybilla Rubens dancing with the children on the green (..look also at the video) accompanied by an impromtu gathering of some members of our brass ensemble who played Bavarian and South Tirolean folk music from just after supper up to 11pm. This is something that started last year...and now is part of "our" tradition. Last but not least a photo of the kitchen staff here who provide us with 5 (..yes..5!!) delicious meals a day. Nobody has lost any weight..rather the opposite!
Thu August 15, 2002
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The first set of photos show some of the staff relaxing after a long day - Nick and Birgit held an impromtu glass or two of wine at their house and were joined by the voice coachers. Meanwhile, Elisabeth went up to Spetzgart castle and looked in on the tent where members of the ensemble can meet in the evening. Today was the first rehearsal for the semi-staged performances of Fidelio and Ernst Poettgen worked with the chorus of "prisoners" in the gymnasium at Spetzgart. Then continuous rehearsals from 16:30 through to 22:00 - our video today is of Erich Krüger rehearsing violas, cellos and double basses in Schubert´s "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern". As I write, shortly before midnight, all is quiet - tomorrow will be another busy day. The weather is still good and the sun shines as many red faces this evening proved!
Wed August 14, 2002
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Day 3 actually starts with a couple of photos from a late night session from day 2 - among them a couple of a relaxed Helmuth Rilling, Maria Guinand and Hannes Läubin enjoying a glass of wine. Today was the first meeting of choir and orchestra under Helmuth Rilling with Beethoven´s Missa Solemnis - rehearsals started at 09:30 and finished at 22:00!! A long day but as the sun has again shone and broken the spell of rainy weather in this part of southern Germany, people sat in the sun and lay out on the grass during the breaks. Portraits of the ladies in the ensemble fill out the rest of today´s news..........who is the girl with blond hair with hands clasped leaning over the balcony? Answers to me please.
Tue August 13, 2002
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With today´s photos we´ve tried to give you an overview of day 2 with the FCO. Rehearsals take place in the historic setting of Spetzgart Castle and also in the modern Härlen buildings- but coffee breaks are served in both buildings as these photos show! As promised yesterday there are also photos of our surroundings- today´s offering includes a dog and a slug! However, studies take priority and you can see the choir studying the Missa Solemnis with Maria Guinand and 25 members of the orchestra playing the Shostakovich chamber symphony with Gernot Süssmuth in addition to snapshots of members of the ensemble (plus child!). As you can see, the weather is getting better.........
Mon August 12, 2002
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Welcome to the "Daily News" of the Festival Choir and Orchestra Summer 2002 Edition!! On this page you´ll find daily updated photos (normally updated just before midnight Central European Time) of members, teachers, staff, animals and a long etcetera of all shapes and sizes caught in action whilst taking part in our second summer season. This is a way for the musicians taking part to see themselves in the internet and to overnight gain unheard of instantaneous international fame and also for their parents, friends, loved ones and the curious or simply nosey visitors to this website to stay in touch and to follow the story of how 180 musicians from 30 countries work and live together over a 5 week period. We hope that you enjoy the photos and comments which will be taken and written spontaneously each day thereby reflecting some of the spirit of music making and kinship that has brought us all here together.
Day 1 (actually Day 2 for some of us - the first member arrived at midday on August 11 and the last group arrived at 2:30am today!!) is a day for getting acquainted with the instrumental and choral professors, the staff and the surroundings. After a general introduction this morning, classes started - some launching straight into music and some straight into gymnastics......
No 30° celcius sunshine so far..in fact it has been one of the rainiest summers on record.....but it can only get better. Come back tomorrow to find out!!

The daily comments for the news written by Nick
Photos: Hollie the webmaster
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