Bursting with Pride

25 September 2017
Irina  Simon-Renes

Irina Simon-Renes



Bucharest, Romania, September 20 - September 24, 2017. 

Forget the plane-hotel-rehearsal-concert-hotel-plane routine. This is my hometown. Every corner speaks to me, every stone reminds me of a story. I am here with my colleagues of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for a concert at the George Enescu Festival and I am bursting with pride. 

In a country where "the stones speak and the forests whisper, the rocks think and the rivers sing" (Romanian Legend of Bran) my personal emotions seemed to find an echo in the spectacular lightning in the evening of our arrival day when I took my colleagues for a tour through Bucharest. I did my best to convince everybody that Bucharest is the greatest city in the world. And when words failed me, the palinca (Romanian alcoholic drink made of fruit) did the rest. It was a beautiful first evening!

The second day we started rehearsals for the program for our concert on September 23: Béla Bartók's (born in present-day Romania!) Divertimento for strings, György Ligeti's (also born in present-day Romania!) Concert Romanesc as well as Paul Hindemith's (for a change - not born in Romania!) Nobilissima Visione. Not an easy program, with lots of notes and lots of information to deal with. But as always with Mahler Chamber: the joy of making music prevails!

On a side note - the rehearsals took place at the National Music Conservatory in a room with a view: you might recognize the monstrosity that is the palace of Ceausescu behind the trees of the old Cismigiu park.
During the afternoon some of my colleagues continued rehearsing Ligeti's Violin Concerto with the always inspiring Patricia Kopatschinskaja, while some others, including myself, had a free afternoon. After having lunch with my parents (such a luxury to be able to spend time with them!) I went for a walk through Bucharest together with my colleagues Emma and Geoff. Here are some impressions:

The Carturesti bookstore which used to be my mother's kindergarten and later became a center for "pionieri" (communist scouts). When I was a child I used to come here to recite patriotic poems...
Admiring Romanian blouses together with Emma...
The heart and soul of Romanian music: Ateneul Roman, the spectacular concert hall built in 1886-1888...