The City of Music
By Jocylin Braun
The morning following our Prague performance, we were back on the road, this time on our way to Vienna, Austria.
Our first full day in Vienna began at Schönbrunn Palace, which was absolutely stunning. The architecture of the inside of the palace was gorgeous and very intricate. It seemed like there was gold everywhere. I especially loved the ballroom, where we learned that there were 1,104 candles used to light up the whole hall at night. In 2012, they were replaced with LED lights that imitated the flickering light of candles.
Afterward, we were dropped off downtown to explore the city center on our own. There was so much to do that even though we had about six hours, we were still limited in what we could see. I especially enjoyed visiting Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, which was my first experience at a European Cathedral. I will never forget stepping through the doors and seeing all the people walking around, the candles flickering lightly, and worshippers sitting in the pews for mass. The light, filtered through the stained glass windows, softly illuminated the choir singers. I also relished simply walking around the square, taking in the different architecture, watching the people walk around, and enjoying good food with friends.
Another highlight of Vienna was a fountain we discovered a few blocks north of the hotel. Some of my friends found it the first night we stayed in the hotel, and we enjoyed it so much that we walked there all three nights. After exploring a bit more, we found a plaque that explained that the fountain, statue, and columns were a War Memorial for the WWI Vienna Offensive. The days in Vienna were very warm, so it was very refreshing to
feel the mist from the fountain softly fall on our skin. There was also a mysterious vent that blew out a lot of fast air, so if you stood on it, it would blow your shirt up like a balloon. On the last morning in Vienna, we took the tram to see the Opera House, and have the Vienna tram experience.
After our day in the center of the city, it was concert day. There were many things that led up to the concert. It was a “drive out” concert, so that morning, we had to make sure we had all of our concert attire, including concert clothes, shoes, instruments, music, masks, and any other instrument-specific items. Then we drove to Wiener Neudorf to have rehearsal, dinner, and then the performance in benefit of Hospiz Mödling. I think there is always a certain amount of pressure everyone puts on themselves because we want to make sure that we play well and represent ourselves well. In addition to this slight tension, it is inevitable that tough situations may arise. For example, during rehearsal, three members of the woodwind section realized that they had forgotten their music at the hotel; so while everyone was setting up and beginning rehearsal, we had to coordinate where everyone was going to sit so that we could share music just in case we were not able to get ours by the start of the concert. Similarly, a brass player misplaced their mouthpiece. Luckily, someone was able to go back to the hotel and return just in time with the mouthpiece and our music. It was a little peek into how, as a professional orchestral musician, you should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario and ready for anything that might happen. We can learn from this experience so that hopefully it will not happen again. Next time, we should have extras of different parts just in case.
I have never been on an orchestra tour before, so going to Europe this year was an amazing experience that also held some challenges. In a way, it is difficult to travel halfway across the world, do a lot of sightseeing and walking around, and then sit through 2-hour long rehearsals and concerts while you’re sleep-deprived because of jet lag. We are so thankful to Dr. Tay for being so patient with us and motivating us to perform our best, even when we all were tired.
After a very extravagant concert in Prague, it was humbling to play a much more intimate concert with a smaller audience. I think that we performed very well, even though the venue was not as grand as the concert before. The people welcomed the music with open hearts, and there was direct communication between the orchestra and audience. It was also fun when we surprised the Mayor and his wife by playing Happy Birthday for them. It was special to perform in Vienna for the locals and share the pieces that we have worked so hard on. At the end of the day, it was especially nice to be able to drive back to the hotel and then go to bed.
Even though this concert was in a more humble venue than our others, it was still a very rewarding experience. In summary, the concert in Vienna was a success, and the experience in the city was very enjoyable.
About The Author
Jocylin Braun is a rising senior from Sunnyvale, California. She has played the flute since 5th grade and is currently studying with Isabelle Chapuis. Her journey with playing in large ensembles started in the 6th grade band at her school, The King’s Academy. In 8th grade, she joined Golden State Youth Orchestra’s Wind Ensemble and is now in their Senior Symphony as co-principal flute under the Baton of Dr. Yun Song Tay. Jocylin has attended the Junior Bach Festival in Berkeley, California, which has invited her to perform at their winner’s recital three years in a row. This summer, she will be attending various flute camps across the country, including the Juilliard Summer Winds Program, Northern California Flute Camp, and Flute Summer Intensive at the Eastman School of Music. As a result of being chosen as a first place winner in the American Protege International Concerto Competition 2022, Jocylin will be playing in Carnegie Hall this coming December. She also received a first place award in the category of Advanced Flute, Young Prodigy, from the US International Open Music Competition. Outside of music, Jocylin enjoys dancing and spending time with family and friends.