Kammermusik des Konzerthausorchesters
Since the beginning of the season, our four "newcomers" have settled in completely. As part of the "Mostly Mallwitz" week at the end of November, all nine current academy members performed an Espresso Concert. Hans Henning Ernst, Elena Cotrone, Phoebe White and Ulrike Petersen (as guest) on the violins, Mao Konishi and Barok Bostanci on the violas and Hyejin Kim and Sofía Ogas on the cellos played Mendelssohn's String Octet in E flat major op. 20 at the end, during which our cover photo was taken.
On her first visit to Berlin, violinist Elena Cotrone fell in love with the Hackesche Höfe: "I also like that there are quiet, beautiful, almost secret places next to every big street in Berlin. I like getting lost in the city!" She found her way to the violin at the music school's open day: "I totally loved the teacher's lessons." So the piano, which she actually wanted to learn, was quickly forgotten.
What would her life be like if she didn't play the violin professionally? "Then I would open a bookshop with a café and organise concerts there on a small stage."
Besides literature, Elena loves painting and has a special collection: "Every time I go to a museum, I buy a bag afterwards with a motif of a painter I like." The Frenchwoman's favourite meal is "pâtes à l'ail" made from her grandmother's recipe: "For the sauce you need fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil, with pasta and Parmigiano. Very tasty!"
Hyejin Kim likes to start the weekend with a cup of pour over coffee. Then it's time for a short practice session on the cello - she chose her instrument when she was a little girl because it was bigger than a violin. Her sister played the violin!
After practising, she meets up with friends to try out restaurants and cafés, discover galleries - in short, to enjoy the beautiful sides of the big city. And if the weather is not good? Then she likes to stay at home in her pyjamas! Hyejin, who comes from Seoul, collects fridge magnets from all the places she visits.
"Before the pandemic, I only played the violin in my life, although I was always interested in viola. After a few tries, I fell in love with its warm sound and immediately decided to switch completely," Mao Konishi says. Schumann, Bartók and Hindemith are her favourite composers - by the way, there are great pieces for viola by all of them. Piano would also be an instrument for her.
If the Japanese from Kyoto weren't a musician, she would work as a zoological scientist - no wonder that Mao's favourite places in Berlin are the Zoo and the Tierpark. And what does she like to eat? "Spicy dishes!"
When you're new to Berlin, it's good to have friends who show you the best places: Our cellist Sofía Ogas gets to know the city this way, especially on weekends. The Argentinean owes her instrument to her parents, who encouraged her to play it - and to the cello teacher at the music school, because he "was very cool".
When it comes to orchestral works, Gustav Mahler is her "No. 1". If she had time, she would "very much like to sit down at the piano again. The lessons in college were great". Alternative instrument in the orchestra? "Definitely double bass!"
In a parallel world, Sofía would be social worker. Her favourite food, homemade gnocchi, is part of special occasions in her family.
Many can identify with flutist Yeseul Bahng’s answer when she was asked about her favourite place. Her answer: Home! That’s where she spends her weekends, relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city, reading and listening to music. Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E Minor brought Yeseul to her instrument as a 12-year-old. Currently, her favourite piece of music is Schubert’s only flute composition: Introduction and variations of his lied “Trockne Blumen”. She is also fond of the oboe and its timbre. In an alternative world, the Korean flutist would probably be a music therapist. Here in Berlin, she also prefers food from her homeland Corea.
Because good posture is very important for making music, our violist Barok Bostanci, who comes from Ankara, reserves as much time as possible for sport, especially on weekends, in addition to practising his instrument. His favourite place to do this is in Franckepark in Tempelhof. He was first inspired to play his instrument by a good teacher at the conservatory. Barok is also an electric guitar fan – he favours the Gibson Les Paul Traditional. If he weren’t a violist, he would enjoy building string instruments for a living. His favourite food is shrimp casserole!
Violinist Hans Henning Ernst often goes to exhibitions on Berlin weekends, from antiquities to contemporary photography. A favourite place is the old Funkhaus Nalepastraße. As a three-year-old, he was so euphoric about "an open-air concert with suites by Handel and opulent fireworks" that he first wanted to learn the trumpet. Today, the violinist wishes "to play the piano so well that I could play large orchestra scores at sight". In another world, Hans might be a journalist, a city planner or do research on evolutionary anthropology. At this time of year, the Rostock native loves noodle soups, but also fish and "everything with mashed potatoes and green beans".
Percussionist Christoph Lindner is athletic in his free time. He enjoys beach volleyball, football and jogging. He can do all these activities in his favourite place in the city, Tiergarten Park. Concerning his instrument, he says: “When I was 7, I thought a drum set was utterly cool and wanted to learn how to play. Later, I saw someone playing the marimba and was so fascinated by the sound that I wanted to master it. Bit by bit, I came to classical orchestral percussion.” In the works of Christoph’s favourite composer, Dmitry Shostakovich, percussionists often have a lot to do. By the way, he could also imagine playing the trombone. If the Berlin native were not a musician, he would be a maths and sports teacher in front of a class or on the sports field. While collecting is a hobby for many, percussionists are obliged to do it: Christoph has a wide range of mallets. Oh, and his favourite food is spinach lasagne!
When violinist Phoebe White has a weekend off, she likes to dance in Berlin clubs. Her older sister introduced her to her instrument. She was already playing the violin when Phoebe was born. “I was completely fascinated when she practised, and at some point, I started to imitate her.” The Irishwoman from Dublin would have found attractive career alternatives in other forms of art – as a painter or filmmaker.