I enjoyed more incredible music last night during a Karajan Academy concert at Berliner Philharmoniker. Exceptional students attend the Academy to learn from distinguished members of the Philharmonic.
It was cold with fat snowflakes falling all around, so I stopped for a hot drink at the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market which was full of merrymakers. The performance hall was packed with several concerts appearing in the Philharmonie Building. The Chamber Music Hall was cozy and comfortable.
Carolin Widmann Violinist – carolinwidmann.com
Popular conductor Herbert von Karajan founded the Karajan Academy 40 years ago. It’s funded by private donors. Berliner Philharmoniker concertmasters and symphony leaders teach young musicians about life as professional orchestral members. Karajan graduates perform in symphonies worldwide, and almost a third of Berlin Philharmonic musicians are former Academy students.
Each season, students participate in five public concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie. The concerts are about “getting to know highly talented young musicians”.
The training program is both a postgraduate course and an internship. Students learn to “listen carefully to their colleagues, become aware of what the other musicians are doing, exercise critical self-reflection, and constantly strive to be better”. The Berliner Philharmoniker makes those concepts its own.
“Chamber music occupies a prominent place at the Academy and promotes the whole instrumental culture.” Students learn the “specific repertoire of their respective instrument” and focus on early and contemporary music.
Herbert von Karajan – Shazam
The Karajan Academy’s moto is “learn from the pros”.
The solos were outstanding! Other than Widmann and Albach a fantastic flute soloist performed during Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, but I don’t know her name. I was at a disadvantage since the programs was in German only.
Peter Riegelbauer – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
According to Peter Riegelbauer, Philharmonic double-bass player and head of the Karajan Academy, young instrumentalists get a sense of what it means to be a “complete musician”.
Felix Mendelssohn – James Warren Childe 1839
Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concertos
“Järvi is a fascinating man to watch in concert. Not only is he a Grammy award-winning conductor but he is also a swift mover on the stage. He remains focused, and incredibly involved in the music.”
“Berlin’s striking pentagonal yellow concert hall was the product of designs by Hans Scharoun. It, along with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the chamber music hall, and the State Library, make up Berlin’s Kulturforum.“
The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.
The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained! Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.
Next Long Trip
I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!
Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.
Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.
Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the real issues keeping South Africans awake at night.
Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images
Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com
South Africa’s EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition”.
My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.
During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin…
Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images
The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…
Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia
Berlin This Fall
I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.
I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”
Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.