Two more countries in three days

The Philharmonie concert hall in Luxembourg was a pleasant walk from the hotel.  Bassoonist David Sogg brought his folding bicycle on tour, and may have taken a more circuitous route however.

The Philharmonie is a dramatic structure of white columns and geometric surfaces, here dwarfing the people outside.

The smooth surface at the building seems to invite touching – it descends to meet the pavement at ones feet.

Obviously it was too inviting for some skateboarders, who have left wheel marks tracing their moves in various strategic locations on the domed surface.

Backstage in Luxembourg there was time for reading – here violinist Dennis O’Boyle relaxes with a book.

PSO management is tucked away in a dressing room backstage.  Here Director of Media Relations Nicole Philipp works on details for upcoming venues.  In addition to travel, rehearsals, and concerts, many receptions are being held along the route at which PSO musicians and staff meet with sponsors and business representatives of European companies who either have or are exploring the possibility of establishing branches in Pittsburgh.

Personnel Manager Kelvin Hill is dressed and ready for the concert tonight, stopwatch at the ready.  Among his many duties is making sure musicians are on stage on time, both at the beginning of the concert and after intermission.

PSO Resident Conductor Larry Loh lurks backstage, his video camera at the ready.

Bass trombonist Murray Crewe warms up before the evening’s concert.

After two concerts in Luxembourg the Pittsburgh Symphony flies to Prague, the musicians and their luggage arriving on Saturday just after noon.  The scale of the tour operation is reflected in this assemblage of suitcases in front of the hotel waiting for room numbers and delivery to their owners.

It being the Orchestra’s first visit to Prague in at least 30 years, everyone lost no time in rushing out to see as much as possible in the 3 hours between arrival and the pre-concert rehearsal.  Over the many years the city has largely escaped physical damage from various wars and therefore is a marvel of architecture, a wonderful glimpse into the Europe of past centuries.  A church on one of the main squares…

…an outdoor market…

…the decorative facades of buildings along so many of the streets…

…elegant Art Deco details outside…

…and even a Viola Hotel with brass and ironwork decorations!

The Orchestra dressed for the concert back at the hotel because the backstage area is so small at the Smetana Hall here where the performance was held.  Here players file into the backstage entrance.  More Art Deco on the outside of the hall…

…and inside too, on stair rails…

…auditorium skylights…

…and adorning the profile medallion of the Czech composer Smetana, for whom the hall is named.

Smetana’s tribute is located on the front of the pipe organ at the back of the stage.  Seats at the back of the stage can be used for choir seating, but this evening were full of concert attendees.

Before the pre-concert acoustic rehearsal players warm up on stage, George Vosburgh and Neal Berntsen’s dress shirts reflecting brightly on their trumpets…

…violinist Lorien Hart’s calm a contrast to the dramatic sculpture looming just behind her!

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