I walk up to the hotel lobby and ask the front desk clerk if she could tell me where the old downtown is, and she says, oh sorry, the old city was completely bombed in the war. It is gone, there is almost nothing left. I am continually reminded when I tour in Europe how unbelievably recent the Second World War actually was, and how much damage was actually done. My grandfather, a dutchman who lived through the war, never talked to me much about it, but there are definitely daily reminders everywhere you walk in Darmstadt. Yesterday 50 or so of us Knights flew out of NYC to do a European tour of Germany and Austria. Today is a rehearsal day for us, and then tomorrow is our first show. I believe the headline read "A Casual concert with the Knights" as I walked by the Darmstadtium yesterday, where we will be performing. I took the photo above of the hall, and you can see Darmstadt itself in the reflection of the building.
What I didn't find out until last night, walking around the city is that Schlossgrabenfest is also happening right now in Darmstadt, and approximately 300,000 people are here this weekend from all over Germany for a massive music festival right in the middle of town. Last night there were about 7 stages set up all over the city, with all kinds of music from german singer-songwriter stuff, german Rock and Roll, and even a stage just set up with a radio DJ playing the hits, with even a little music from a local Toronto guy, Drake. It's so fun to walk around a massive music festival in Europe, I find it so different from North America, first of all the whole festival was free, there was little to no police presence, and alcohol was unrestricted and openly allowed, well, everywhere. It's also fun to think about all these hundreds of thousands of people raging to all this incredibly loud hip-hop and rock music right outside of the concert hall where we will be rehearsing Shostakovich's 9th symphony today. Maybe it's just me thinking about that juxtaposition because I spend a lot of time in both worlds, touring with my band The Wooden Sky, and then playing so much classical music all over the world as well.
Some of us stayed up late talking about Shostakovich last night, and what he was thinking about when he wrote this particular symphony, and where the world was at, and what was happening. It's interesting being in Germany, performing this piece. It was composed in 1945, and premiered in Leningrad on November 3rd 1945. Originally it was supposed to be a celebration of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany, however shortly after Shostakovich started writing the work, he stopped, took a few months off, and started writing this particular symphony in a completely different character, far different then what he was originally intending and what people were expecting. I'm so excited to perform it here in Germany. The lightness, the classical aspect, the folk-like quality.
If you're in Darmstadt, you can find more info about our concert tomorrow here.
on tour. kickin it. playin.