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Included among the Vienna Philharmonic's various activities for young people was a concert performance of Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel," conducted by Philippe Jordan, played in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein for approximately 850 children. Music Educator Hanne Muthspiel-Payer, the director of "passwort:klassik," was responsible for the preparations and, together with Ernst Ottensamer, served as moderator for the event, which was received with great ovations. This obvious enthusiasm was expressed subsequently by numerous letters and drawings received from the children.*On the schedule for the evening of June 16, 2008 was a concert for the Vienna Festival with Christoph Eschenbach conducting a program previously performed in our 10th Subscription Concerts of the season 2007/2008, which included Antonín Dvořák's Overture "Carneval" and 9th Symphony, as well as Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche".*On June 21, 2008 in the large hall of the Musikverein, Zubin Mehta conducted an "End of Season Concert" which opened with Richard Wagner's "Rienzi" Overture. This was followed by Lang Lang performing the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor by Frédéric Chopin, which he recorded (in addition to Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto in F Major) between June 18 and 21, with Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic. The second half of the evening consisted of orchestral excerpts from Wagner's "Götterdämmerung". *The next day the orchestra, conductor and soloist began a spectacular tour which had received much advance attention in the media - a Mediterranean cruise. For the fourth time in our orchestra's history (after having gone to South America in 1922 and 1923, and Egypt in 1950) the Vienna Philharmonic travelled by ship. Yet unlike the earlier trips, where the ship only served for transport, this journey was designed with classical music afficionados in mind. During the cruise, which began for the orchestra on June 22 in Malta and ended on June 28 in Barcelona, numerous chamber music concerts were given daily, as well as lectures over the history of the Vienna Philharmonic. In addition, two open concert rehearsals took place on board the AIDAdiva. On June 25 in Florence, two concerts with Zubin Mehta and Lang Lang were performed within a six hour period. On the first concert Carl Maria von Weber's Overture to "Oberon", Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Franz Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" made up the program; at the Soirée, which began with Weber's Overture to "Freischütz", Lang Lang played the 2nd Piano Concerto of Chopin. Following the intermission, Ludwig van Beethoven's 5th Symphony was performed. The encores were Mozart's Overture to "Le Nozze di Figaro" as well as Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture. The second program was also performed early in the evening of June 27 in Barcelona, and, immediately thereafter, the orchestra flew back to Vienna, arriving at 1:00 AM.
The cruise proved to be a notable experience for all participants. This was made so for the orchestra by the practical condition of travelling "with our hotel" to the concert halls, combined with a much closer personal contact with our audience, which under other conditions would hardly be possible. Many classical music fans booked places on the cruise because it afforded them the experience of several days' worth of travelling with our orchestra and enabled them to hear the orchestra in various concert halls and experience several chamber music ensemble formations on board the ship as well. The interest expressed in our orchestra left a lasting impression on all participating members.*The cruise with the AIDAdiva didn't end with our arrival in Schwechat Airport in Vienna, but rather some 21 hours later in Schönbrunn Palace. To celebrate the finale of the European Soccer Tournament, an open-air concert was given on June 28 in the Ehrenhof of the palace. Once again Weber's "Oberon" Overture was played, along with the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin and Beethoven's 5th Symphony. For the encores on this occasion, Zubin Mehta chose the fast polka "Leichtfüßig", composed by our former concertmaster and subscription concert series conductor, Josef Hellmesberger (1855-1907), and "Ohne Bremse", fast polka, op. 238 by Eduard Strauss. This concert was broadcast on Austrian television on August 15.