Mar 2015 - Mülheim Mandolin Orchestra (MZO) in Darlington

Saturday 28th Mar 2015

The orchestra arrived at their Mercure Kings Hotel in Darlington on Sunday lunchtime, following their overnight crossing from Amsterdam to North Shields. After  practice in the Dolphin Centre they enjoyed an evening meal at Uno Momento, then an early night to prepare for their full programme over the next week.

On Monday they left at 0930 for a full day in York, and had a tour of the City with Regina, a German guide who we had used on many previous occaisions. Although the weather was wet and windy, they thoroughly enjoyed the day, and had a meal in York before arriving back at the hotel at 2100. They were accompanied throughout the day by six students from the Mülheim Berufskolleg Lehnerstasse, here in Darlington for three weeks work experience and by Nigel Davison and Gill and Tom Nutt.

Tuesday began with a visit to the Council Chamber, at the Town Hall, where after hearing about the history of our town they were able to ask questions of the Deputy Mayor about Darlington, its mayorality since 1867, and of course about links with Mülheim and the Ruhrgebiet. They then travelled to Durham wher they spent the afternoon, the highlight being of course the visit to the Cathedral. We were also able to visit the beautiful Old Town Hall where a guide explained the history of the building. That evening the first concert was held at Carmel School John Caden Hall, in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress, Gerald and Ruth Lee, where they performed "The Magic Mandolin and the Guardians of the Black Gold". This story was narrated by Christian Oesterwind, and conducted by Dominik Hackner. Greatly enjoyed by the audience, the black gold referred to coal - very pertinent to the relationship between the Ruhr and the North East. 

On Wednesday they left at 0930 for Washington Old Hall and enjoyed hearing about the relationship with the American President George Washington. Then on to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland for lunch and an afternoon on the history of glass making and demonstrations of glass blowing, which will be long remembered by one young Mülheim lad who blew the biggest Christmas tree bauble we had ever seen! This was followed by a visit to the parlour of the Mayor of Sunderland, Stuart Porterhouse, where we were well received and given presents by the Mayor. That evening's concert was at St Peter's College, North Shore, in the presence of the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, Barry and Carol Curran. ( I remember this venue many years ago as the Boilermakers Club! ). Another brilliant concert enjoyed by a good audience. Our thanks go to Jane Simmons, International Officer in Sunderland, who did a great job in organising this concert at short notice.

Thursday they left at 0900 for Whitby and the North Yorks Railway with Mike Roff and Margaret, and true to Mike's prediction a couple of days earlier, the weather could not have been better. As with most visitors to Whitby they were enthralled with its charm, and Mike was well prepared to use his knowledge of the German language to convey the many stories about this wonderful seaside town. No doubt they all had fish and chips! They were back in Darlington by 1600 to prepare for their final concert at The Dolphin Central Hall. Word had obviously spread about the quality of the orchestra, as we had to bring in extra seats to cope with the numbers turning up. In my opinion this was the best evening of the three, with a full hall fabulously entertained by MZO, with special guests Janet Walke, Paulina Rossi and Richard Bloodworth. After encores we retired to the Bistro where we had a meal again in the presence of our Mayor and Mayoress. DTTIA presented the orchestra with a coal model of the steam engine Tornado, built here in Darlington, and we were presented with gifts from Mülheim.

Friday morning we visited the Railway Museum wher photos were taken and momentos prrchased for home. We waved them off at 1400 for their return via coach and ferry, and promised to meet again at the Altstadt Christmas Market in Mülheim in late November, where I am sure they will purchase some of our Darlington jam. wine and other christmas goods.

I think we will all long remember this visit from our friends.In Germany, and I do hope they return in the future to even bigger audiences.

The Orchestra, family and friends.

Dominic Hackner  Stephanie Kappus  Elio Hackner  Wilfrid Braun  Monika Braun  Reinhold Pierburg  Renate Pierburg  Monica Oesterwind  Christian Oesterwind  Yvonne Wallach  Mark Stecken  Viola Beck  Silke Schenk  Jost Schenck  Margarete Schenck  Dido Schenck Loreley Schenck  Gabrielle Armbruster  Carsten Pierburg  Kerstin Lütgens-Pierburg  Robin Pierburg  Katharina Pierburg  Christine Neuhaus  Melitta Küpper  Marayle Küpper  Beate Stegers-Esken  Jürgen Esken  Karsten Richter  Juana Keinemann  Ulrich Beck  Ricarda Küpper  Gerald Orlick  Lennart Orlick.



Report by Tom Nutt


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