The premiere of my new work “Der Hirschsprung“ came to a very successful conclusion amidst the opening concerts of the Schwarzwald Musikfestival with Philharmonie Baden-Baden and Mark Mast conducting.
In pretty much all cases, the days before the rehearsal are a true terror for me. Images of failure zip through my brain and I prepare myself for an upcoming total disaster during rehearsals – anything can and will go wrong. No matter how often I’m facing this situation, it’s hard to not get affected by it mentally. On the flip side, this unnerving feeling will disappear as soon as the first seconds of a new work have been played by the orchestra and the situation at hand becomes much less abstract in my mind. “Der Hirschsprung” is not an easy piece to perform and has some unique challenges, both for the musicians individually and the orchestra collectively, to overcome. Especially the first part is rhythmically challenging and keeps all the musicians on their toes because it’s nearly 5 minutes of tutti orchestra banging on the door and introducing the first image of the work, the knight.
One of the coolest things to experience as a composer is that with each rehearsal, even each play-through, the face of a new work becomes more on more clear and nuanced. The musicians start to get a feel for their parts, the conductor feels the tempi by sheer musicality, and everyone listens to each other and understands the inner workings of the new piece, the sound of it, and the energy in it. Rehearsals went great! Mark Mast embraced the challenge and it was very apparent that he enjoyed the piece and wanted it to be the best it can be at our first concert stop in Freudenstadt. With its duration of ~16-17 minutes, it took us pretty much all of our rehearsal time (~6 hours) to get it to a proper and presentable stage.
The premiere of “Der Hirschsprung” has been performed in 3 different cities across the black forest. Every single concert had its very unique vibe and it was quite interesting to see how the different locations changed how the music feels on the receiving end. We gave concerts in Freudenstadt, Grafenhausen, and Bad-Wildbad – especially Grafenhausen was unique since the stage was set up in the warehouse of a huge German brewery.
Our small tour started in Freudenstadt in the Stadtkirche, an interesting church to say the least since it’s not your basic one-long room but rather a room that is spaced at a 90° angle. The energy in the crowd was ecstatic, it felt like people wanted to enjoy a proper concert again, after Corona things are still quite wonky and uncertain, but on this evening nothing of that was perceivable. My work opened the evening so I had like no time to prepare myself mentally for what is bound to happen in the next 20 Minutes. And it went super well, the orchestra delivered their best performance yet and with the help of the room the orchestra sounded massive. The sound ensnared you and made you feel like you are sitting inside the orchestra. Once the piece ended the crowd erupted in applause and continued that for what felt like 10 minutes, I was on stage too – that felt really good.
Next stop: Grafenhausen. As I mentioned before, the location for today was basically a warehouse and I was worried about the acoustics in such a unique space. Maybe it has too much reverb, maybe the room eats all the reverb? I couldn’t know before we had our concert there and to my surprise, the room actually sounded quite well for what is usually considered something very different than a concert location. The second performance of “Der Hirschsprung” was very well embraced again, the orchestra stepped up again and it was noticeable that they got more comfortable with playing it.
Last stop: Bad Wildbad. The week of the concerts was quite draining, we had lots of rehearsal time, and lots of travel time mix that with a lot of emotions and I started to feel it. There was still a lot of reason to be enthusiastic since we had a recording engineer booked for today's concert. Werner Grabinger already made a recording of the premiere of my “Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra” and I was excited to have him on duty again. The orchestra delivered another great performance of the piece and the recording sounds great and is luckily something I’ll be listening to several more times over the coming days.
I didn’t really grasp what I was expecting from this premiere but I can safely say that I didn’t expect “that”. The feedback from all parties involved may it be the crowd, the musicians, the conductor, or the press, was overwhelmingly positive and really helped in staying motivated since the last 2 years of Corona were quite the challenge and draining. I feel very lucky to have been part of this series of concerts and my deepest gratitude goes toward Mark Mast who, without an inkling of hesitation, trusted me to create something worthy of presenting. I also wanted to thank the whole team from Schwarzwald Musikfestival, notably Julia, Julius, and Simon! Thank you for having me and thank you for making this a memory I’ll treasure for a long time! And a special thank you to Yasushi Ideue, concertmaster of the Baden-Baden Philharmonics who, yet again, played an incredibly touching Solo in the second part of the piece!