Countdown to Retirement: IPO Goes to Greece

By Peter Marck

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Goes to Greece

September 16, 2016

Megaron Theater

We’ve just landed in Athens for one of our Greek “run-outs”: two concerts at the Megaron Theater with Zubin funded by an unknown admirer. Sure beats Haifa!

While waiting for suitcases, I joked around with Rafi Glaser who retired 11 years ago from his position as second trumpet. Looking around on the bus, everyone was younger than me and I had no idea who were some of the people. I wonder how Rafi feels; he loves the orchestra and Zubin, but, except for a few of us, most of the people to him are strangers. Maybe I’m making too much of an issue out of “belonging.”

There were only 2 weeks separating the South America tour from the visit to Athens. I used it to re-learn two movements of a Bach Suite so that I’ll have new practice material before the rehearsals and concerts. The difference between playing daily in the orchestra and maintaining that same strength and accuracy at home practicing, is like trying to bridge between two very different worlds. In the orchestra, you have 100 colleagues pushing you ahead with no stopping, and at home you are up against your own shortcomings and on your own time. At home, I practice from memory working on musical details: taking apart passages for days, looking for fingerings, working slowly on intonation, playing passages of 25 minutes from memory. But, tomorrow evening, I’ll be one player among 105; shouting at the top of my double bass voice just to be heard…and part of a musical event that is completely out of my hands. Nothing you can do at home prepares you for it.

With that in mind, I know that for my own personal peace and self -confidence, I need those two movements of Bach to re-align my thoughts before jumping back into the big orchestra. The strange thing is that Zubin has been off somewhere conducting some other orchestra on exactly the same piece that we played in South America and will play tomorrow night, and hasn’t for a moment taken a step out of the orchestral world. We will just try to catch up tomorrow.


September 18, 2016: Run out to Athens


“Run-out” for musicians, has a special meaning. It’s not like “running out” of time, or “running-out” the anchor on your yacht. For a musician, a “run-out” is a concert close enough to home that it’s not too inconvenient, but far enough that it is definitely out of your daily routine. Haifa is a run-out, Jerusalem is a run-out, and for the Israel Philharmonic, also Athens is a run-out!

On Friday afternoon, the orchestra flew to Athens for two concerts in the Greek Capital. The hour and 50 minute flight is just about the same as Holon to Haifa by bus. Maestro Mehta flew in to meet us. Of course, the orchestra has quite a bit of repertoire ready from the South American tour, but with new oboe and tympani players Zubin was itching to start the rehearsal at eight o’clock (nine o’clock concert!). We waited patiently for Shabbat to end at 8:10 before getting to work.

On Sunday, the orchestra rehearsed in the morning and performed an all Strauss program with “Til Eulenspiegel,” the Four Last Songs with soprano Kristin Lewis and “Ein Heldenleben”.

Zubin filled the hall for every concert and the audience is very warm.

For the previous 4 visits to the Megaron Concert Hall we have had the same gentleman serving us coffee and sandwiches at the breaks of rehearsals and concerts. Although he was busy at another date on Saturday (waiters also have “run-outs”) he came by the rehearsal to say hello to the orchestra….a very nice touch!

Monday, we fly home and begin the season in 10 days.

March 2019 will mark a huge change in the life of Peter Marck. Join us on an intimate and personal quest through the tides with a passionate musician and IPO icon, and a dear friend.

For the first time and exclusively to IPO colleagues and followers, a musician of our Orchestra will share insights into the challenging but also liberating process he goes through – towards his final performance with the IPO.