Activity 14: Musicians exchanges - Exchange no. 23

With ONE in Ljubljana

By Monika Steinhöfel

My service didn't start in Jena On Monday morning, the 6th of March, but at 9 am in the radio house of "Simfonični orkester RTV Slovenija" in Ljubljana. To get there, I had to travel through half of Europe. I got my first impression of the Slovenia countryside on Sunday before the first rehearsals started. I had a nice surprise when I met the young Latvian conductor Giedré Slekyté as she knows the Jena Philharmonic. She conducted our orchestra during her time in Leipzig while working in the conducting class of Professor Winfour. She has wonderful memories of her time working with the orchestra in Jena.

I immediately found a musician that I became close with and it was than quite clear that English was to be the main language during the rehearsals. This is absolutely no problem for the Slovenian Orchestra. Most of the Slovenian people speak several languages. I was heartily welcome. My place was well prepared, my desk-neighbor, Matias as well as all his viola colleagues, said a very warm hello to me and Maja Kojc , who had recently been in Jena for the "ONE Oboe Competition", was waiting for me. During my stay, we had the chance to speak about our "ONE" experiences. The first 3 issues of "SeitenKlang"(our orchestra magazine), which I brought from Jena, was a something of interest for the Slovenian colleagues. They don’t have anything like this in their orchestra, but one colleague does document the daily work of her orchestra with a kind of photo documentation so she can show her colleagues, who go into retirement, as a present, a memory of their time with the orchestra. During the first break, many of the colleagues came to me and spoke about our last "ONE" project many years before. They asked about the well-being of all the people in the Jena Orchestra.

Normally, the rehearsals in Ljubljana are 4 hours. The first break is a half an hour, enough time to go and drink a coffee. I got an invitation and felt again very welcome. I felt well with the artistic work. The Program started with a piece from Bernd Franke's "Cut8". It is a contemporary piece written for the "Gewandhausorchester" in Leipzig. After it was played in Leipzig, it went to conquer the world. It is filled with demanding soli for the principal players of the cello, viola and violin. With the 3rd Symphony of Robert Schumann, I felt at home as for German players it is standard repertoire. It was a great stroke of luck for me that the orchestral played the songs from Richard Strauss. I hope to play them in Jena sometime soon. They are little pieces but great music! With Oleno Tokar, I met a little part of the middle of Germany again. She is singer at the Leipzig Opera. She and the conductor know each other from their days studying in Leipzig. They both spoke German and that was good luck for me...and I could follow all aspects of the rehearsal very well.

Ljublana invites one to a walk to its many sights. The castle, the historical old town and the little river Save are beautiful destinations. The early spring sunshine lured me to go to park Tivoli. On the horizon the snowy peaks of the Karpaten impressed me. With the wonderful recommendations from my Slovenian colleagues, I ferreted out the best places of the town.

The concert was the high point at the end of all the rehearsals. The Slovenian Orchestra is a radio orchestra, microphones and TV cameras are normal in the daily routine. That's why the musicians are very professional with this situation and not overly excited in having these on stage. In the radio room of the orchestra, there is a clock with red signed digital seconds. The first class RTV orchestra is bigger than our orchestra. I’m a bit envious of them! With 14 first violin players, it’s more easy to produce a warm, smooth and very pianissimo string sound!

After the concert, the Slovenian musicians ring out the evening with a beer together as the extreme concentration of playing makes one quite thirsty! In the bar, that the viola colleagues invited me to after the concert, we met up with other musicians again. At the end of the evening, I was urged to try a specific Slovenian Beer. I can swear that it was super thirst quencher!

It was around midnight that I got into the night train to Germany and went home with fresh motivation to my next services in Jena.

The work in the orchestras of the "ONE Network" not only gives me a look at the musical work, special qualities and also problems of the colleagues there but it also gives a personal reminder of the riches of Music, that overcome the hindrances of cultural and language borders, share. What a present!