/ “Bridge to Boston” – BYSO makes local Leipzig newspaper!

Meeting of the young musicians from Boston and Leipzig in the Kupfersaal in Leipzig. Photo: Andre Kempner. Source: Kempner
  Youth Orchestra from Overseas Makes Music with Choirs from Leipzig The Boston Symphony Youth Orchestras has arrived in Leipzig to rehearse programs for the Bach Festival in conjunction with youth choirs from the Opera and the Gewandhaus. Concerts will be held on June 8th in the Market Place and on June 10th in the Gewandhaus. Leipzig. Filled with 60 instrument cases, 60 young singers, 38 cakes and a bit too many coffee pots – Leipzig’s Kupfersaal is overflowing at the „Meet & Greet“ with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO). Then they arrive, 60 American youths, and Peter Wollny, Director of the Bach Archive, is happy that they have made their way across the big pond. At noon they landed in Leipzig, have already gone on a sweat-inducing city tour – and yet are abounding in energy. Thus there is soon a hustle and bustle of expectant faces and of American accented “Heeey, how you doin’?” The energy of the 13- to 25-year-olds will surely be felt this weekend during the Bach Festival and will not fail to be heard. The joint project of the BYSO, the Youth Choir of the Leipzig Opera and the Gewandhaus Youth Choir was organized by the Bach Archive in order to provide a joint musical enterprise within the framework of the Bach Festival. After all, the USA is this year’s partner country and thus a musical-international exchange presents itself and can also come to realization with the help of the Goethe Institute, the Foreign Office as well as the Consulate General of the USA. Michael Maul, Director of the Bach Festival, is already looking forward to the result: “The young people in the German-American Choir- and Orchestra Academy worked hard on the respective works of the musical household deities of their homeland. Therefore I’m sure that the enthusiasm of the musicians will be carried over to the audience at both performances during the Bach Festival.” While everyone is mingling into a huge group around the cake buffet, the already-constructed rehearsal locale in the rear part of the hall reminds one of a still life. The empty chairs and music stands exude an inviting aura and chief conductor Federico Cortese will not long delay in the coming days to live up to his musical vision. The rehearsal plan is packed full, his expectations of the young people are high. Even so, Catherine Weiskel, Executive Director of the BYSO, wants to give her protégés also an understanding of Leipzig above all as a musical metropolis: “Our students will not only practice intensively here, but above all they should learn to appreciate Leipzig’s musical history.” The best possible quality in both areas is to be the goal. In this country the young symphony orchestra lives distributed among host families of the young choir members. Elizabeth McCormack plays the flute and together with bassoonist Emily Qiu stays these days with the parents of Judith Herenz. The three girls are looking forward to the week they will spend together: “I already lived with Elizabeth during our stay in Boston and had a great time. Now I hope to be able to offer her the same kind of hospitality.” On the other hand, for Sophie Bauer, Director of the Childrens- and Youth Choir of the Leipzig Opera, the cultural encounter takes priority: “We want most of all that the young people stay in touch beyond the exchange program.” She goes on to say that practicing music at the highest stage is a bonus here, for you definitely cannot tell the age of these young professionals by listening to them. The young Orchestra is an official partner of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and has only brought students of the “top levels” to Leipzig. At the beginning of their training the youths had to prevail in castings over 500 other candidates. Already in April the German choirs were on a visit in Boston to give musical support to the Orchestra at the celebration of its 60-year anniversary. Exchange: cultural, musical and human. Even though similar projects have already been achieved earlier, the cooperation of the two youth choirs is the celebration of a premiere. Frank-Steffen Elster, Director of the Gewandhaus Youth Choir, is looking forward to the joint work: “The musical bridge between the two cities is finally in existence.” Andris Nelsons, as Gewandhauskapellmeister [Music Director] and chief conductor of the BSO, forms that bridge. The possibility of a cooperation between the two world-class orchestras is a rarity which is not going untapped. The first Leipzig “Boston Week” will open on June 19th with chamber music of the Boston Symphony Chambers Players and a short presentation by Christoph Wolff, former Director of the Bach Archive. An additional attraction is the Great Concert on June 21st and 22nd with an American-informed core repertoire: The Program will then include Elliott Carter’s Clarinet Concerto – with the Gewandhaus composer Jörg Widman as soloist, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Copland’s Old American Songs and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Already on June 8th, beginning at 8:00 p.m., the three young ensembles will be offering a sampling in the Market Place and thus hope to get their audience excited for the concert on June 10th in the Gewandhaus. Musically, a wide-ranging arc will be drawn between Leipzig and Boston: from Bach’s “Dona nobis pacem” from the Mass in B Minor to Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms – fitting for his 100th birthday. In addition, the Bostonians will play Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in the Great Hall and the youth choirs, under the cooperative direction of Frank-Steffen Elster and Sophie Bauer, will sing a capella the Four Motets of Boston composer Aaron Copland. The Youth Choirs of the Gewandhaus and the Leipzig Opera in cooperation with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras at the Bach Festival: June 8, 8:00 p.m., Market Place (free admission), June 10, 6:00 p.m., Gewandhaus, Great Hall, cards (9/13) Euro. Information about the Leipzig Boston Week:; tickets and info at the ticket gallery in the LVZ lobby, Peterssteinweg 19, in Barthels Hof, Hainstr. 1 or through the toll-free hotline 0800 2181050 and at By Lotta-Clara Löwener and Laurine Schubert Leipziger Volkszeitung Translations by Hermann Schibli