Tuesday evening, 13 June 2017, 8 pm. Barbara Bürgisser, dressed in black, gazes at the conductor with concentration and expectation. She sits in the third row and is ready for her first performance in the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York. The time has come. The conductor raises his baton, the audience falls silent and listens raptly to the world première of the piece “Vox Populi” by Brett Keüper Abigana. Barbara is one of 68 musicians in the Stadtmusik Stockach ensemble.
The journey to Carnegie Hall
Performing at Carnegie Hall is truly no everyday occurrence. The honour of performing in New York with its ensemble is therefore all the greater for Stadtmusik Stockach. The fact that the time has now come and that Barbara is a part of it is something she can barely believe. But first we need to go back to 1991, when it all began. At this time, the young Barbara meets the up-and-coming conductor Helmut Hubov. He immediately wants her to join his ensemble as a French horn player. Yet she turns her back on German-speaking Switzerland and spends several years living in Romandy. Only twenty years later do the two of them meet again by accident, and they immediately arrange for Barbara to become involved in Stadtmusik Stockach. Although it only becomes apparent some time later that the ensemble is off to New York, it still seems as if this chance encounter marks the beginning of the journey to Carnegie Hall.
Barbara, what fascinates you about the French horn?
I originally wanted to play the trumpet; it was something of a coincidence that I discovered the French horn. There weren’t many young people playing this instrument at the time, and so I was persuaded to play the French horn instead. I find the sounds particularly fascinating – in famous Hollywood movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Jurassic Park, for example, it is the French horn that forms the dramatic component of the film score. And there are also relatively few really good amateur French horn players. To be one of them is something I am truly proud of.
What emotions did you feel during your performance at Carnegie Hall?
My initial nerves gave way to pure adrenalin. When our conductor raised his arms and the concert began, I was flooded with euphoria. The atmosphere in the acoustically perfect venue is indescribable. There are very few concert halls that can compete with the sound quality of Carnegie Hall. And New York is simply New York; it’s the dream destination of any music ensemble.
What are your future plans?
The next project is already lined up. I am off to perform for the pope in the Vatican with another musical association, Stadtharmonie Winterthur-Töss. if everything goes smoothly, we will play a concert with the Papal Swiss Guard on the occasion of the Brother Klaus Festival towards the end of September 2018. A unique experience that I wish to be a part of. We are keeping our fingers crossed for Barbara.
Barbara Bürgisser has been working for Aebi Schmidt International AG in Zurich since summer 2016, and has played the French horn for 35 years.