March 07, 2008
Danielle Harrell wanted to share some experiences from the patrons who have joined the Orchestra in Europe. The patrons are traveling with the Orchestra to select cities on the tour, attending the concerts, and enjoying additional local attractions and activities. The past few days included the concert in Berlin, a visit to the Holocaust Memorial and more. From Danielle:
“On Thursday, March 6 the patrons were treated to a walking tour through the streets of Berlin by former German Consul General Hans Wendler. The air was crisp and clean and we all learned to appreciate the gentle Los Angeles weather a little more during that walk.
The first site we looked at was the Brandenburg gate, which used to be the main entry/exit point for the Berlin wall.
Next, we had the chilling experience of seeing the holocaust memorial, or as it is more commonly referred to in Germany, the memorial to the murdered European Jews (Denkmel fur die ermordeten Juden Europas). The memorial site was completely unlabeled, but it was incredibly moving from the moment I saw it. I had started taking pictures of the striking view even before I knew what it was because it was visually so powerful.
After the walking tour, we met with Christian Eichhorn at the Foreign Ministry Office. Mr. Eichhorn talked about the state of German and US relations, while we sat in the room where the decision to erect the Berlin wall was made. Mr. Eichhorn started his briefing by crediting the US with inspiring the destruction of the wall. Following the briefing, the patrons went to the Foriegn Ministry’s International Club and enjoyed a sumptuous meal, which catered by the Lutter and Wegner restuarant. The patron tour ended with a quick tour of the Pergamon Museum.
Later that evening, we regrouped for the concert at the Berlin Konzerthaus. If the stomping of feet, incessant clapping and screams of “Bravo, Bravo” were any indication, I would say that the Berlin audience thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Vesselina was phenonmenal. As Gail Eichenthal enthusiastically expressed, Vesselina was capable of making her voice and facial expressions do whatever she wanted them to do. Vesselina’s range and the depth of emotion with which she sang each aria was thrillingly exhausting to watch. The Orchestra’s rendition of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and the encore it played of Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony were also spectacular, and made the LACO cheering crowd immensely proud. After the concert, the musicians surprised the patrons by presenting them with beautiful glass-handled Venetian letter openers. The night ended with soup, wine, cheese, and good company at the residence of the former German Consul General’s home in what was once the heart of east Berlin.
The patrons were welcomed to Paris, one day ahead of the majority of Orchestra members, with a reception at the US Ambassador Mr. Craig R. Stapleton’s residence. The heavily guarded location provided a luxurious first impression (for me at least) of the finery Paris has to offer. The Ambassador greeted all of the guests individually, and then officially welcomed LACO to the city and spoke briefly about the recent improvements in French and US relations.
Tomorrow, the patrons will attend their third and final concert of the tour, bookended by events in the private homes of home Claudia Gvirtzman-Dichter & Phillip Dichter, and Warner & Carol Henry.”
- Danielle Harrell