Back in 2001 I did an audition (can’t remember whether it was taped or live) for a position in the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra – then one of the world’s leading youth orchestras. I was 16 and in great shape on my trumpet. 

The programme for their Summer tour was nothing short of spectacular, for a trumpet player at least. Mahler’s 7th Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s 5th, conducted by renowned Maestro Eliahu Inbal. The excitement I felt when I got the message saying I was admitted is something I still remember 

But things took a somewhat disappointing turn. Just days before leaving to Indonesia, where the rehearsals were to take place before touring Asia extensively during six weeks, we all got a mail saying that due to financial difficulties, the tour would be much shorter, we would only visit Indonesia and Taiwan, and we were going to perform Bruckner’s 5th and Sibelius’ 7th Symphonies. Still nice, but no way as exciting as the original programme. Also, Maestro Inbal’s son, Daniel, was to take over and conduct the tour. 

The tour turned out to be one of the best musical and human events in my life and I have some of the most pleasant and lastingly joyful memories of. I met some wonderful friends and excellent musicians, some of whom I still have contact with. We had moments of  incredible fun, switching from the long and serious Bruckner rehearsals to drinking ice-cold drinks while swimming in the pool at tropical temperatures in what was a somewhat disrespectful luxury hotel in a poor Jakarta neighborhood. 

I first performed Mahler’s 7th in another unforgettable youth orchestra experience in 2005. I auditioned and was admitted into the European Union Youth Orchestra with the generous help of my then recently acquired German passport. Bernard Haitink was our conductor, and I never ended calling him arguably my very favourite conductor. He has the ability to put musicians at ease, make them feel comfortable and refrain from tackling mistakes excessively, knowing nobody likes making mistakes, and that professional musicians will work on them without someone having to specially tell them – still a big example most other conductors should acknowledge. I was given the role of principal trumpet and had a wonderful section supporting me in four passionate performances.

Over ten busy and intense years (!) went by until I suddenly got this request from the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra to join them for a week of rehearsals and concert in March 2016. Performing Mahler’s 7th. Conducted by – yes, life is funny – Maestro Eliahu Inbal. 

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