AYO International Tour 2016
By Tegan LeBrun
The time had come; the moment that we had all been eagerly anticipating was finally here: our first concert of AYO’s International Tour of 2016. We had left our residency at Akoesticum in Edè two nights prior in order to travel to Bad Kissingen, Germany, where we were to perform Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 and ‘New World’ Symphony by Dvorák as part of the Kissinger Sommer Festival.
Everyone was excited to be moving into the concert venue and to finally be playing the first of our two tour programs after an intensive rehearsal period in the Netherlands.
Bad Kissingen itself was very beautiful. I loved the architecture and general appearance of the town – cobblestone streets were lined with buildings of various shapes, colours and sizes, many of which were adorned with traditional wooden lattice work. It’s my first time in Germany so many of the sights were new to me, which was great! The concert hall followed suit- it was beautiful inside and out, especially in the courtyards and surrounding garden areas. I remember thinking that the stage was small compared to what I’m used to (which I knew would be the case as halls are often more intimate in Europe). It definitely felt like a special place in which to play our first concert of the tour.
The performance is a little bit of a blur for me. I remember as I walked across the stage and up the risers to the timpani, a slightly terrifying thought crossed my mind – I have to play the first note in the first piece of this concert!
The Brahms begins with a fortissimo timpani roll underpinned by the lower brass, before the strings enter with a dark and sweeping melody. The roll must be confident, full and expertly placed – all thoughts which were racing through my mind as I sat down behind the drums.
I remember telling myself the usual things – ‘relax your hands’, ‘let the drum sing’ and ‘don’t accent the front of the roll – keep it rounded!’. Yet none of that seemed to matter when Maestro Honeck raised his baton to start the piece. All I could hear then was the opening bars of the first movement. I took a deep breath and before I knew it we were off and running with the Brahms!
The rest of the concert is far less clear in my memory than those first moments but I do remember having lots of fun, particularly in the final movement of the Dvoràk. Now we are heading off again, this time to Wiesbaden to perform Mahler’s First Symphony, ‘Titan’. It’s going to be fun!