05 December 2018
In our 2018 European Tour, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will perform 12 concerts in seven countries in some of the most magnificent halls in the world. Emma Dunch, CEO, is on the road with the orchestra and writes to us from our sixth stop, Antwerp.
From Warsaw, we flew to Brussels, Belgium, and caught the bus up to Antwerp. The Elisabeth Centre Antwerp, home of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, has been the concert venue site for more than a century. Recently renovated by English architecture practice SimpsonHaugh and American acoustician Larry Kirkegaard, the 2,100-seat concert hall was reopened in 2016 and renamed the Queen Elisabeth Hall. A brand-new lobby and hall was constructed behind the historical building façade, creating a beautiful mix of glass and wood, old with new. Not surprisingly, the acoustics inside are state-of-the-art and the hall is excellent. We were delighted to receive another standing ovation for our performances of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto with soloist Renaud Capuçon, Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Brett Dean’s Engelsflügel.
While we were there, Associate Principal Trumpet Paul Goodchild travelled to Ypres to lay a wreath on behalf of the fallen musicians and buglers of World War I, as part of the Last Post Ceremony. This moving tribute has taken place every single evening since 1928, in the important battlefield location where many ANZACs lost their lives. The nightly ceremony features the two military bugle calls, the Last Post and Réveille. As well as laying the wreath, Paul was invited to recite The Ode of Remembrance to the 500 assembled guests. A great honour, Paul read out the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon's poem “For the Fallen” – They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. It was an incredibly moving moment.
As we are discovering, being on the move with a tour group of 126 people is a lot of rushing followed by periods of waiting. To fill the time, musicians do get up to all sorts of fun and games to amuse themselves and their colleagues. On this leg, new Principal Flute Joshua Batty and new Principal Bass Clarinet Alexander Morris decided that purchasing Lego-like “Super Saxo-Flutes” at the airport toy shop would be a fun way to pass the time. They constructed their new instruments and then proceeded to torment all of us with musical renditions of popular orchestral favourites on the bus and in the baggage claim area. Principal Oboe Diana Doherty was not at all convinced!