Hamburg and Vilnius – Tale of Two Halls

The Pittsburgh Symphony has visited two more concert halls in the past three days. The backstage area of a concert hall can be an absolute warren, especially true of older halls with limited space. The PSO’s stage technicians not only move the 100-plus packing trunks of instruments into the venue, but post signs to help musicians and staff find their way around.


Some paths are not recommended, such as this very inviting staircase.


The stage technicians have a trunk of their own, bristling with tools for every imaginable repair job.


Between the short acoustic rehearsal and the performance musicians changed into concert dress and perhaps grabbed a cup of coffee. In the meantime, instruments and cases awaited, wall-to-wall.


The harps used in the performance in Hamburg must be tuned off stage: with 47 strings each requiring attention, tuning takes time and a quiet place. PSO harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen and her daughter Heidi Gorton (seated, who is also playing on this tour) relax after dealing with the 94 tuning pegs between them.


Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle, ready for the evening’s concert.

To view an interactive panorama of the Laeizhalle, click here!


Some of the astonishingly beautiful fresh flowers adorning the Hamburg stage.


Newer halls have television screens to monitor activity on stage during concerts. Hamburg’s viewer is simple and direct: a double-paned porthole in the door leading onstage. The window is angled to provide a view of the podium, here revealing Manfred Honeck conducting, Anne-Sophie Mutter in the soloist’s position, and concertmaster Tomo Keller just visible to the right.



The hall in Vilnius, Lithuania is more modern, almost stark in comparison to the buildings in Wiesbaden and Hamburg.

To view an interactive panorama of the concert hall in Vilnius, click here!



After the Vilnius concert the US Embassy hosted a champagne reception for the orchestra. Here Manfred Honeck and soloist Anne-Sophie Mutter greet the US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Anne Hall.



Scanning for wi-fi networks while riding through Vilnius leads to the definite conclusion that we are NOT in Kansas anymore!



The orchestra had a short wait in the airport before boarding a charter flight to the next stop, Vienna, Austria. Contra-bassoonist Jim Rodgers has a wonderfully portable activity while he waits, one which does not require batteries: knitting!

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