Bridges between worlds - June 2012
Salem show - Steve with orchestra
Steve and Bernd in Stuttgart
Steve with trams and turrets of Halle
It's been an eventful week, starting with the much anticipated Squackett album release. Although a combination of glue and the Jubilee held up its release, for which I apologise, I'm pleased to say it's been unbelievably well received...
Meanwhile Monday 4th June saw Jo's and my wedding anniversary, but no time just yet to celebrate properly as we were winging our way to Germany to join forces with two orchestras with bands and singers, all under the baton of Bernd Ruf...
Following rehearsals in Stuttgart, we hit Salem for orchestral manoeuvres, on the way taking in spectacular Lake Constance via Meersburg, which could be a perfect setting for the Pied Piper tale. This gig took place in the grounds of an old castle and featured an army of PopAkademie singers alongside band and full orchestra. I was knocked sideways by the powerful combination of voices and instruments, as the singers tore into Firth of Fifth, Prize Fighters, Your Own Special Way, Golden Age of Steam and a medley from A Trick of the Tail.
We then travelled on to Halle, deep into the eastern part of Germany. This area has a more Central European atmosphere, with its plethora of trams, turrets, Baroque facades and cobbled streets. Music wafts through passages, and George Frederick Handel's statue stands proud in the centre of town. Amazing to think he was born in the same year as Bach and Scarlatti. 1685 was a great year for keyboard players! I felt honoured to be playing here at the Handel-festival of Halle.
The location was an impressive gorge in a forest, which looked particularly amazing when fireworks shot up from behind into the sky in time with an orchestral Star Wars music medley. The show featured another impressive combination of orchestra, band and singers, this time also including opera singer Birit Barfred Jensen and Lebanese singer Rabih Lahoud. Birit's voice was exquisite, and Rabih gave a spellbinding Arabic interpretation of Handel, with orchestra, ethnic drumming and Bernd Ruff's soprano sax. The courtly melodies of Handel provided a backdrop for practically every conceivable musical style, from rap to rock. In addition to my own pieces, I joined in at Bernd's request with electric guitar, hastily learning the beautiful lines penned all those years ago by Handel's own special hand.
In that short space of time we got to know many wonderful people, and the experience was truly magical. My special thanks to Bernd, Benny, Markus and all the singers, band and orchestra members, as well as Brian and Roger, who conducted operations from the UK, and Ben, who helped me through my various rites of passage in Germany...
Birit, Cherry Gehrings and Steve with band and orchestra, Halle
Steve with the girl singers, Salem
Group shot, Halle