By Michael Ingle
Trombonist – Australian Youth Orchestra
I am a Master of Music (performance) student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also currently a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra. In January this year I was accepted into the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg to complete my final semester of university on exchange in Germany. For those unfamiliar with Freiburg, it is a picturesque town of about 200 000 people in the south-western corner of Germany – near the borders of France and Switzerland. My main motivation to study in Germany was to get myself closer to the homes of classical music where there are so many great orchestras, teachers and players. I also received a 2000 Euro scholarship to aid in living expenses from the Baden–Württemberg Foundation. So on April 1st this year I set off to the land of Bier and Bratwurst with high expectations!
During my three months in Freiburg I studied with Professor Branimir Slokar. Prof. Slokar has had an illustrious career as a trombone soloist and teacher and I caught him in his final semester before he enjoys a well-earned retirement. During my semester there, Prof. Slokar put on a fantastic retirement concert which included both solo pieces and works with his incredible trombone quartet. Many of his former students attended, as well as a large audience. The evening concluded with a rendition of Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” with 20 trombonists (including myself) playing!
The downside of coming to Freiburg in a transition period was that I sometimes missed lessons and my studies felt somewhat disorganised. However, I highly recommend the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg as a place to study. I feel Freiburg is a city with a perfect balance between having enough to do and not too many distractions.
Whilst in Germany, I found enough free time to be able to travel to other cities in Germany to have lessons with other teachers. Some of these were with trombonists Frederic Belli, Mayumi Shimizu (both Principal Trombonists, SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg) and Oliver Siefert (Principal Trombonist, HR Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt). Concert experiences were also a highlight of my time there. I was lucky enough to see the Berlin Philharmonic play Britten’s “War Requiem” as well as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe’s rendition of Brahms’ 2nd and 4th symphonies conducted by Bernard Haitink. Surprisingly there were Australian music students in almost every city I went to which was helpful when looking for a place to stay or a helping hand. By European standards, Germany is quite a large country and trains can be expensive, so my advice is to book ahead if possible or consider alternative forms of transport. I found some very cheap midweek flights with Easyjet out of Basel, and also used the website www.carpooling.co.uk which is a form of organised hitchhiking.
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