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The first concert of the IPO European Festival Tour in Stresa was a huge success. The program of Webern, Liszt and Tchaikovsky was greeted by a full-house of music lovers celebrating the Festival’s 50th anniversary.

The next morning the orchestra flew to Vienna to be guests at the Grafenegg Music Festival directed by pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. The festival takes place 60 km. from downtown Vienna in a fantastic summer setting: a 17th century castle including moat, stables, servants’ buildings, woods, farmland, gardens and even a natural goldfish pond. The elegant audience comes mostly from the city for events which this year included the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic and other great ensembles.

The modern concert stage is a replica of Vienna’s Musikverien concert hall…but under the stars! As in the Musikverien, the comfort of the musicians is not essential and players warmed-up or practiced in the woods surrounding the castle. Even though concert-dress wasn’t mandatory, seeing musicians playing in the natural beauty of the woods was an interesting contrast.

Our host, Rudolf Buchbinder, director of the festival, performed Brahms First Piano concerto. In the second half of the program which was broadcast on Austrian Radio, the orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and 2 encores; “Andante Cantabile” from the first string quartet and “Waltz” from Swan Lake.

Of course, there was just enough time for one meal of Traditionelles Wiener Schnitzel and dessert of Apfelstrudel mit Vanilla-Sauce und Schlagobers!

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Israel Philharmonic European Tour;
An in-auspicious beginning

The Israel Philharmonic departed on Saturday for a one month concert tour of European Festivals; 21 concerts in 18 cities! For those who believe in omens, it was an “in-auspicious” beginning: we boarded our Milan-bound charter flight, got settled, and waited patiently 55 minutes only to hear the Captain announce a flat tire! 20 minutes later, he announced that the problem was a bit more complicated, and we all disembarked to the terminal to wait for a repair crew.

By late afternoon, we arrived in Milan, and drove to beautiful Stresa on the shore of Lago Maggiore.

The Stresa Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the appearance of the Israel Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta is the central event. Orchestra members enjoyed a break from Israel’s summer heat with a visit to Isola Bella by steamer or a cable car climb on Mont Monterrone for a view of the snow covered Alps.

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