My first encounter with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) dates back to 2005. I heard two concerts during the “Mozartwoche” in Salzburg with the conductors Alexander Lonquich and Daniel Harding, and I was immediately thrilled by the freshness of the interpretation and the high motivation of the orchestra. Later on, in the summer of the same year, I attended the Lucerne Festival for the first time and experienced another magnificent performance, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony under the baton of Daniel Harding. At that time, I also learned that the MCO forms the core of Claudio Abbado’s Lucerne Festival Orchestra. In the entrance hall of the KKL (Kultur- und Kongress-zentrum Luzern) I found a little stand with information about the orchestra and among the papers also an application form for becoming a member of the MCO Friends Circle. I filled it out immediately, and from then on I was in love with the orchestra. The most important characteristics – alongside the enormous professionalism – are the youthful freshness and the enthusiasm of all musicians. They are all friendly and open people, and this makes you feel like part of one big family. At rehearsals and concerts you are absolutely at the edge of your seat, as if you were joining in the music-making yourself. And afterwards you may run into the musicians in the streets or in some nice bar, and they are always glad to chat with you.
The photographs included here are not an attempt to present a complete picture of the orchestra. Instead, they are a personal view and have been taken purely for personal use. The possibility to take photographs during rehearsals was limited to places with a familiar atmosphere, like Salzburg or Landshut. Fortunately, it was also possible to take photographs during the annual MCO Friends meetings in Lucerne, where selected members of the orchestra always give a small private concert to the Friends. I am very thankful to all the musicians and also the staff of the MCO, who gave me these opportunities.
The orchestra plays in many different formations. In addition to the official members, other players of equal musical quality are often invited to join special projects. Thus the reader of this book may on the one hand miss some prominent members like the violinist Julia-Maria Kretz or the oboist Mizuho Yoshii, among others. But on the other hand, he will also find pictures of several of the external players.
The book starts with a look back at the ten year anniversary in 2007. A concert conducted by Daniel Harding was given on 31 October of that year in Ferrara. After the concert, a big birthday party was celebrated in the Ridotto of the Teatro Comunale, and as a secret birthday present Konstantin Pfiz and his cello colleagues performed a special arrangement of Wagner’s Meistersinger overture. Then after a warm speech by Daniel Harding, all those present raised their glasses for a special toast to the orchestra.
This year, the MCO will look back to 15 years of successful concert performances, and it seems to be the perfect moment to present this book as a personal tribute to the musicians.