Thanks to a friend of mine who has spent several sabbaticals in Germany, I have been able to hit the ground running in Zürich. She gave us several city maps that have come in quite handy (people here want to know where I got them). She told me about women’s clubs which led me to the AWCZ.
Knowing that I would want to find fellow musicians, she did a little internet search and came up with several orchestras to check out. I did not know that I should look for an orchestra club. Apparently there are clubs for just about every interest you might want. If you google Vereine Zürich (Zurich clubs) you can find organizations for sports, theatre, animals (bees and rabbits come up), family gardens, trains, coin and stamp collectors, astronomy, or anything else you can imagine.
Before moving here, I had already emailed the Orchesterverein Wiedikon to find out about playing with them. From their website, I saw that they give two concerts a year, and I thought that was about perfect for a sabbatical year. Before my violin arrived, I reconnected with the the orchestra contact and found out all the pertinent information: where they meet, rehearsal schedule, etc.
Last week was the first rehearsal which I greatly enjoyed. There are about 20 string players and a very young conductor (this group which started in 1924 likes to give young conductors a start). Most came up to me and introduced themselves, found out that I could speak a little German and were very kind to let me practice with them. I keep hearing that Swiss would rather speak English than High German, but not this group. When the rehearsal started, and the conductor started talking, someone reminded him to speak Hoch (not Swiss) Deutsch.
This week a violist introduced herself to me (she had missed the first rehearsal) and then queried why I only spoke Hoch Deutsch. When I told her that I was from America, she nodded. I followed along pretty well with what was going on during rehearsal, and I felt right in the middle of my musical element. The music is mostly from the 20th century, none of which is familiar to me, some of which requires practice, which is what I want. My stand partner was born in the US, grew up in the UK, but has lived here for awhile and speaks German, Swiss German and French as well as English. She has not played in orchestra for 40 years, so I think we make a good team. She helps with some translations, and I help with music stuff.
Last night I asked my section leader (an extremely nice woman) if I could borrow a music stand. I told her I had been using my laptop on the table to hold up my music, and she said that I should certainly borrow a wire stand. I didn’t need to bring it back and forth since there are plenty in the room. That not only saves me the $63 for a new one, but when the year is over, I can just give it back and won’t have to find a home for it.