Alban's Blog

One Wedding and two Broken Bows

My last blog entry came only minutes before I had to rush off to the registry in Berlin Mitte to get married to the love of my life with the beautiful and equally brilliant name Gergana Georgieva Gergova-Gerhardt. So much Ger in Germany, who could come up with anything like it?!

The wedding itself was an unbelievably memorable experience eveb for, as I have been told, our guests (well, they have to say that, I guess, but it sounded surprisingly sincere :)). About fourty friends (mainly the ones who had travelled far) and family members had made it to the registry in the early afternoon, and the gentleman who finally married us at around 1:52 pm, stiff as all German officials, gave us some serious advice even though he claimed he wasn’t there to give us any, but as we were surrounded by many of my little nieces and nephews, it had such natural and loving atmosphere that I didn’t even mind that guy. A little reception with a bit of champagne and nibbles followed at the Radialsystem, the place, where I had played all the Bachsuites in July 2010, to kill the time until the departure of a little boat we had chartered to take us on a two and a half hour trip on the Spree River all the way through the center of Berlin to the government district and back, a little sight-seeing tour absolutely worth doing – if it wasn’t for the lousy weather we encountered. A week prior we had almost summer-like temperatures, but on that specific day, March 31 2012, it rained, snowed, and once in a while we even had blue sky and sun, yet freezing cold – a unique experience; at least we got some good photos!

Getting married

This will be probably a rather short little post: While my future wife Geri is being made even more beautiful by some stylist I am sitting on the floor trying to book some little details to our honeymoon to Venice. Yes, I am getting married for a second time, I can’t wait to finally make our love official. Am I nervous? Not really – extremely excited, but as I know that this is by far the best I can do for my life I am so much looking forward to a hopefully simple ceremony in the registry and later on a wonderful party at Berlin’s Radialsystem. We haven’t invited too many people as we don’t want it to become too impersonal: 80 friends and family members are planning, guided by my youngest sister Pamina, some surprises – soooo touching to see through how much effort they go to make this day as memorable as possible for us.

Concerto Marathon

Sitting in a train, dashing back from my last concert in order to spend a bit of late-night-time with my son, always gives me the opportunity to get some work done. Answering e-mails, returning calls, or, as rather sedlomly recently, writing my little diary here. I know, I should just translate the monthly blog I am writing for this music magazin “Fonoforum” in German, but this would take much more time than writing something new – at the same time it’s kind of boring writing twice about what happened in the past few weeks which is the reason I have almost stopped posting something here. 

Skiing in Switzerland…

I am not trying to justify myself, but I will just give you another (weak) reason for my laziness in writing here: thanks to a chief editor of a classical magazin in Germany, the “Fonoforum”, who somehow thought that my way of writing rather honestly and directly about whatever happens to a travelling musician could be of interest for his readers, I am writing every month a “thing” for his publication. And somehow, this “thing” which I am normally writing within an hour or so, takes even more drive away from writing onto my own homepage. And while writing here is without guidelines and not too many readers (or at least I don’t know them), at the Fonoforum I mustn’t write more than 3500 letters which I haven’t managed yet, and the poor man is pretty upset about my unability to just state the most important things – I just wrote the new “blog”, and I am already at 3935, which is almost 15% above.

What do you listen to in the moment?

A concert venue, where I am going to play in January, wanted to know what I am listening to in the moment; somehow I misunderstood and thought it was about popular music, so my quick answer was “Radiohead”, because my fiancée loves it and I thought that they music was different to other bands, that they were “recognizable” for a moron like me (who doesn’t know anything about pop or rock music). Well, the answer wasn’t enough, they wanted a longer statement, and since I am pretty bad in bullshitting, I decided to stick to the truth – here it is:

I don’t listen to music outside of a concert hall. I love going to concerts and listen to all different kind of music (opera, orchestra, chambermusic, jazz, experimental, you name it), but the older I get the less I am intrigued to listening to canned recordings. When listening to music I need to have the live atmosphere, I want to see the creation in process, not some pre-made product. Indeed I live in a very lucky place, Berlin, where we have tons of live music every day, dozens of concerts to choose from, three opera houses, jazz-clubs, other clubs, and I am spoilt by having that chance, I admit. I do own quite many LP’s, mainly piano music, loved Horowitz and Dinu Lipatti while growing up, but I haven’t even replaced the needle on my excellent LP-player when it broke four years ago. Although I own a little ipod, I have no music on it whatsoever, just audio books which I listen to while jogging. I don’t need a constant stream of music draining out the last bit of thoughts I might be having – and I do think better when there is no musical distraction around me, and I love to be alone with my thoughts, don’t need any kind of background noise for it. What I am listening to in the moment? The Silent House by Orhan Pamuk 🙂

Self-Discipline and Death

“Prelude & Food”

“Prelude & Food”

I had promised myself to start writing more often again but couldn’t keep my own promise. Also I wanted to loose weight and learn Bulgarian which I haven’t managed. Self-discipline, the highest virtue for me because I have so little of it, and the happier I am the more difficult it seems to “stick to the plan”. What to do? Be unhappy and self-disciplined? Not raise the bar up too high? Or just take little steps and do one thing at the time? Yes, this is what I am doing right now; instead of practicing for next week’s duo-concerts with my fiancée in Cologne and Hamburg I start writing this blog entry in my hotel room in the city of Portland!

Playing for Presidents

at the Evangelische Schule Neukölln ESN

at the Evangelische Schule Neukölln ESN

While having delicious Japanese food in some hidden bar-like restaurant in Melbourne with my colleague Howard Penny (wonderful guy, professor at ANAM and member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe), my cellphone rang in the middle of dinner. This fact alone is worth mentioning because my phone very rarely rings, and if, it would be either my fiancée Geri or my son János on the other line – other correspondence I take care of via e-mail. Normally I would ignore a phonecall being in company and especially while eating (not that I am so polite, but I just love food too much to be interrupted), but when I saw that the caller was our pediatrician Dr. Hauber I chose to answer his call, worrying about my son’s health.

As Dr.Hauber is not only a doctor but also a collector of string instruments, which he loans  students more or less for free, as well as a benefit-concert organizer, this call luckily had nothing to do with János but the unusual request of forwarding my cellphone number to the office of the German president  who was looking for a cellist to play at a state dinner honoring the Turkish president. Why him? Well, some doctors have good connections 🙂

Performing and Teaching in Australia with Urgency

In Rottnest Island near Perth

In Rottnest Island near Perth

When a journalist asked me ten years ago about my dreams and aspirations for the future, having already played with important orchestras at important venues, my answer was as quick as it was simple: I would love not only to be able to make a living by playing music for the rest of my life, but more importantly that I would love playing the cello with 50 as much as I did being 20 years old. And when I think of last night, playing Shostakovich’s wonderful First Celloconcerto for the third time in a row in Melbourne, finishing off my five-week Australian tour with four different orchestras and some chambermusic and teaching, I can happily confirm that my dream has come true!

Time in Australia (in German)

At the beach of the Black Sea

At the beach of the Black Sea

Sorry, another blog entry in German -  will soon write something in English again 🙂

Mein Vater hat mir als Kind immer wieder gepredigt wie wichtig es ist, nicht nur regelmäßig zu üben, sondern ganz bewußt die “Batterien” wieder aufzuladen. Von Natur aus faul ist mir dies nie schwer gefallen; ohne Gewissensbisse habe ich es auch dieses Jahr wieder geschafft, nach meinem letzten Konzert am 15.Juli in den USA mein Instrument nach meiner Rückkehr in Berlin für vier Wochen nicht anzurühren. Zunächst übergab ich mein 300 Jahre altes Goffriller-Cello meiner Geigenbauerin zur jährlichen Wartung (der Hals war etwas lose…) und verbrachte dann mit meiner Verlobten drei Wochen in ihrer wunderschönen Heimat Bulgarien, am Schwarzen Meer, ihrer Geburtstadt Pleven sowie in den Bergen des Balkan und Rilagebirges. Eine Woche verging allerdings, bis die regelmäßigen Albträume (Flugzeug verpassen, Blackouts auf der Bühne, Verlust des Instruments oder einfach ein Stück spielen zu müssen, das man gar nicht kennt) sich einstellten. Erst in Augenblicken der Entspannung merke ich, wie stressig das Leben als freischaffender Musiker ist.

July Blog-Diary in German (for Fonoforum)

Statue of Liberty with Janos

Statue of Liberty with Janos

Als ich vor einem halben Jahr gefragt wurde, ob ich mir vorstellen könnte, in den Sommerferien meines Sohnes János eine kleine USA-Tournee zu spielen, lehnte ich dies spontan ab. Nach einer langen und anstrengenden Saison mit zahlreichen Auftritten, CD-Einspielungen und noch mehr Reiserei wollte ich einfach nur ausspannen können. Allein meine USA-Managerin ließ nicht locker, und nach Rücksprache mit János, der gerne mal wieder ins seine Geburtsstadt New York fahren wollte, verlängerte ich die Saison bis Mitte Juli, in der Hoffnung, Konzerte mit Urlaub verbinden zu können.