Blog 4: Mannheim Hochschule Symphony Orchestra

Hello and welcome back to my blog! This blog is entirely about my recent tour and project with the Mannheim Hochschule Symphony Orchestra. I signed up to take part in this project back in August before arriving in Mannheim because I thought it would be good for me to experience playing with a German orchestra and rehearsing in a different language. 

We started our tour on the 10th of October with the long journey to the Landesakademie in Ochsenhausen. I found out that each state in Germany has a Landesakademie which is dedicated to the arts of young people. It was all on campus with rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, living accommodation and a beautiful dining hall. 

I felt slightly stressed upon arrival because I didn’t really know what was going on and the language is still very much a barrier at times. I finally got a room key and put my luggage into the room and went straight off to rehearsal with our fabulous conductor Johannes Klumpp. 

Rehearsals started off by reading through the repertoire: Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Rudi Stephan’s Musik für Orchester and Ravel’s Tzigane with soloists Ludwig Balser and Shiyao Luo. Johannes lead the rehearsals incredibly well and I am glad they were in German. It was a great experience to rehearse in another language and I was grateful to have had the help of Cedric (trombone) and Sarah (clarinet) to translate anything I didn’t understand. The bassoon section was solid, with fellow Erasmus student Guglielmo (Italian) and Ecem (Turkish) on contrabassoon.





Concert 1: Ochsenhausen, Landesakademie

Concert 2: Mannheim, Rosengarten

Concert 3: Heidelberg, Augustinum

Concert 4: Neustadt, Saalbau


The second and third days of rehearsals continued to go well and there was a great spirit within the orchestra. I didn’t realise there were parties every night in the cellar until someone asked where I had been the previous night because they hadn’t seen me; from this point I went every night. I met many wonderful people through this project, a few of whom I have spoken with only in German. Meeting such lovely people who only spoke German was a brilliant way to force me to speak and engage with the language more, because most people do speak English and immediately switch to it when I introduce myself. I’m really pleased to have met some more students who I will see around Mannheim and am very glad to be in such a welcoming environment.

The first of our four concerts was an informal concert in Ochsenhausen which went really well and was conducted by a few student conductors who had been with us the whole week. The second concert was in the Musensaal in the Rosengarten (the main concert hall in Mannheim) and I was very glad to have Bettina and Anna Lena in the audience watching me! The penultimate concert was in Augustinum Heidelberg and our final concert was in the Saalbau in Neustadt. It was amazing to play in all of these different venues across this region of Germany and I am proud of myself for doing the project. It was not easy at the beginning and I was definitely thinking “what am I doing here?” quite a lot. However, I made great friends and great music and am very glad I went for it. I am looking forward to the next project here in Mannheim with Incontro… More to come soon!

Thank you for following my blog and I hope to see you at the next one!

Ashby x