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For the third time, after 2008 and 2010, the Vienna Philharmonic embarked on an ocean cruise between July 6 and 13, 2012. After a rehearsal phase at sea, three concerts were given in Istanbul, Ephesus and Athens under the direction of Herbert Blomstedt, who had made his debut on the podium of the Vienna Philharmonic during the Mozart Week 2011, thus making him the oldest "debutante" in Philharmonic history.
On July 9th in the Anadolu Auditorium in Istanbul, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto in D minor, KV 466, featuring Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist was performed, as well as the Symphony in D major, Hob. I:101 ("The Clock") by Joseph Haydn. One day later an open-air concert was given at a historic site. At the Agora in Ephesus, only a few meters away from the world famous library, Franz Schubert's UnfinishedSymphony, D 759, and the C major Symphony ("The Great"), D 944, were on the program. The concert on July 11th afforded an emotional high point. Following the performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto in A major, KV 219, with Rainer Honeck as soloist and Beethoven's "Eroica" there were ovations from both audience and the musicians on stage for Herbert Blomstedt, who on that day celebrated his 85th birthday.
The concert calendar was augmented with a rich variety of musical opportunities aboard ship. The audience had the possibility of attending orchestral rehearsals, there were chamber music concerts by various ensembles ("Hans Peter Schuh Quintet", "PhilKlang" and "Die Wiener"), and appearances by Rudolf Buchbinder, Angelika Kirchschlager and Robert Lehrbaumer, as well as diverse lectures and podium discussions.