Jun 21, 2014
"Offen für alle" - Leipzig BachFest, June 2014
Saturday June 21, 2014
Julia Wedman, violin
One of the best things about being here at the Leipzig BachFest has been the opportunity to see old friends and meet new friends. We have several wonderful musicians playing in the orchestra from all over Europe - Sweden, Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany and England. We have seen friends and colleagues from Canada and Europe come to play at the festival, including the Academy of Ancient Music with Richard Egarr (frequent guest director at Tafelmusik) and Peter Harvey (guest singer with Tafelmusik last year in Saul
and one of the teachers at TBSI) who was here singing with a baroque orchestra from Poland. We have had incredible support from Tafelmusik fans who have come to Leipzig, including Al and Jane Forest, Dr. and Mrs. Jehl , all of the people on Rick Phillips' tour, fans we met in Irsee, etc.
The orchestra and staff having a beer with Dr. and Mrs. Jehl (4th and 5th from the left, front row)
Our guest soloist for the second Tafelmusik concert was the fantastic violinist Midori Seiler. It was her first appearance with Tafelmusik, and it was a special treat for me to have the chance to play with her because her sister Mayumi Seiler was my teacher when I studied at the University of Toronto. Midori played two concerts at the festival. The first was a magical late night concert of solo Bach (the D minor and E major Partitas) at St. Thomas Church. She played from memory and was lit by candlelight, standing just in front of the flower-covered Bach memorial. The Thomaskirche is truly one of the most special places on earth to hear a concert. I wish our whole Tafelmusik audience could come to Leipzig with us just to experience it!
Midori's second concert was with Tafelmusik and included violin concertos by J.S. Bach and Telemann, as well as orchestral music by Handel and C.P.E. Bach. This concert was at St. Nicholas Church - Bach's "other" church in Leipzig. The Nikolaikirche has changed a lot since Bach's day and now has very elaborate late 18th-Century rococo decorations inside - complete with palm trees!
Before the concert, I visited the Stasi Museum across from the Mendelssohn music school. The first rooms at the museum have photographs and newspaper articles about the beginnings of the revolution in 1989, which grew out of silent prayers held at the Nikolaikirche every Monday at 5pm. These prayer meetings were "offen für alle" (there is still a sign at the front of Church welcoming all people), and led to people from all parts of the community coming together to initiate change, resulting in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. The Stasi Museum is full of memorabilia including photos, letters, flags, uniforms, disguises, and a briefcase with a camera inside used for spying. There were over 148 km of files collected on private citizens before the the Berlin Wall fell. Citizens are now able to make an appointment to view their secret files. It is amazing to think about how much Leipzig has changed since 1989. Now it is so full of life - vibrant and beautiful! Friends here have told me that life satisfaction in Leipzig rates the highest of any city in Germany, and it is the city with the highest amount of money per capita spent on culture. It is difficult to imagine things were very different here not so long ago.
Nikolaikirche. Photo by Joseph Tan.