AYO rehearse in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
AYO rehearse in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Photo courtesy of Ed Le Brocq

AYO enlisted the voices of several musicians taking part in the 21st International Tour to give a personal insight into the experience of playing as a traveling orchestra in some of the most exciting venues in the world. Their adventure started at home where everyone was brimming with anticipation, and as Muhamed Mehmedbasic (Double Bass, Principal) pointed out: ‘The average Tour musician will have found out soon enough how easy it was to promote the upcoming concerts … holding the names ‘Christoph Eschenbach’ and ‘Joshua Bell’ close to the chest like fortune-flipping trumps, although if they have as little of the card shark about them in both appearance and temperament as I do, they probably would have blurted out these two names at the first opportunity and watched the reaction unfold, hopefully, all the way to the ticket booth.’

Jordonne Colley (Cellist) wrote about the pleasure of playing the challenging repertoire that AYO was performing: ‘Each day in intensive rehearsals we are psychologically dancing, chanting, singing, shouting, cowering, soothing, entreating… and the range of experiences we are sharing through music (a unique way to traverse heaven and hell without getting our hands dirty) – one moment violent tribal sacrifice, the next the rhythmic lilting of a ship in ocean waves – has filled our days with a kaleidoscope of sublime but confusing sensations!’

AYO on the steps of Kongress Palais Kassel.
AYO on the steps of Kongress Palais Kassel – Stadthalle. Photo courtesy of Ed Le Brocq

The orchestra’s first European concert, in Berlin’s Konzerthaus, was a huge success and an unmatched beginning to the European leg of the tour. Karina Filipi (Tuba, Principal), summing up the impact of such an experience wrote that: ‘Playing The Rite of Spring in this world-renowned venue with exceptional acoustics was nothing less than a surreal experience … The conclusion of the concert brought with it a shower of applause from the audience that continued for what seemed like an eternity.’

Muhamed Mehmedbasic, in a spirited summary of the AYO tour experience, admits that the orchestra ‘left all its audiences in the dust when its turn came along to clap and hoot in boundless gratitude to Maestro Eschenbach, Mr Bell and Mr Barton for allowing it to mix noise and make racket with three titans of the auricular art’.