My Twitter pal @orchestrasfan has been profiled in the Frankfurter Neue Presse:

Frankfurt’s Ulrike Schmid has tweeted her way into classical music.  Along the way, she has become such an enthusiastic orchestra fan that she has even set up her couch in the concert hall.


Ulrike at the Old Opera House

Ulrike Schmid saves a seat for her next guest in the Old Opera House. She herself is a sort of regular guest in the beautiful hall. Photo: Christes

West End.  She didn’t get it from her parents.  Ulrike Schmid, adoptive Frankfurter and freelance PR-consultant, discovered classical music for the first time in adulthood.  She’s fallen in love all the more intensely, especially with the sound of symphony orchestras.  Her enthusiasm is so great that she wants to share it with the whole world.  So Ulrike Schmid even takes strangers with her into the concert hall.

In a program called “Concert Couch”, she tries to introduce people who have almost no impression of classical music to the works of Bach, Brahms, or Berlioz.  As part of the process, she relies on her second great passion:  the Internet.  Because she doesn’t take just any stranger to the concert.  The prerequisite:  her companion must maintain a blog, just like she does.  It can be a blog about almost anything other than classical music.

“But my companions must write about their concert experiences afterward,” Schmid asserts.  That’s how it came to pass, that the discussion on Björn Habegger’s totally automotive-focused webpage or Frank Baade’s football blog unexpectedly turned to classical music and the pros and cons of going to a concert.  “So, together, we reach people who otherwise would not come in contact with music,” Schmid explains her motivation.

Ulrike Schmid invests multiple hours per week in her not-totally-private passion.  Along the way, she’s made a name for herself on the Internet as “Orchestrasfan” (

In this way, Ulrike Schmid is no ordinary music enthusiast.  Her favorite is the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.  She follows its activities with extra intensity, announcing them on her blog (which she operates as “Orchestrasfan”), and distributes news from the ensemble via Twitter.  She also occasionally interviews members of the orchestra, and answers the ever-newsworthy question of proper concert attire.  “To make it easier for other women, I post photos of myself in the concert outfit on the site.”

As “Orchestrasfan”, Schmid has even made it onto the radio.  In each “Frankfurt Radio Symphony Rendezvous” broadcast, she asks the orchestra rather basic questions.

More than 350 people follow the music enthusiast on Twitter, and she interacts with almost three dozen real or virtual acquaintances about music, musicians, or repertoire on a daily basis.  And it doesn’t bother the fan base that Schmid’s commentary isn’t always completely neutral:  with a wink, she lets it slip that the local Symphony Orchestra has been described as the best in the world.

Since the beginning of the month, the 45-year-old has been operating with restraint, because she’s now also doing professional PR for the Frankfurt Radio Symphony.  She has gone back to the Concert Couch, though.  This time, she was joined by the Frankfurt blogger Antje Blume-Grabow; the two women listened in on the Frankfurt Opera House and Museum’s Orchestra.

Schmid’s challenge is to seek out the appropriate guests and then find the concerts, take care of the tickets at the venues, and promote the guests on her blog.  You can practically hear how much she enjoys music.  Now and then even orchestras and concert halls contact her and offer tickets for her and her guest on the couch.



Matze Hielscher came across a brilliant remix of an infectious pop hit that seemed to jump right from obscurity to overexposure.  He noted it briefly on his blog, and I just had to pass it along:

Five minutes ago I really had heard “Happy” by Pharrell one too many times, and had banned it from my playlist.  But then around the corner comes Mister Woodkid, with a few strings in his pants pocket, making “Happy” into the most beautiful song of the day.  Sad, but true.  Sniff.

Here’s some great news about Krzysztof Urbanski, the Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra:

Krzysztof Urbanski, one of the outstanding representatives of the emerging generation of conductors, will become the Principal Guest Conductor of the North German Radio (NDR) Symphony Orchestra as of the 2015-2016 season.

With this appointment the orchestra also makes a conscious move related to its future role as the resident orchestra of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall:  with his dynamic guest appearances, Urbanski impressed  musicians and audiences as well, and understood in particular how to excite younger concertgoers about classical music.

Regular Guest Conductor for the Past Five Years

Krzysztof Urbanski is happy about the new assignment:  “I first conducted the North German Radio Symphony in 2009 in a concert of works by Kilar, Martinu, and Dvorak.  Since our first meeting I’ve had the good fortune to work regularly with the ensemble–each time with totally different repertoire, whether it be Polish, Czech, German, or Russian composers.  I’ve always been captivated by the sound quality of the orchestra and the commitment of the musicians.  No matter how challenging the assignment, they all approach it with a musical intelligence and sensibility that one doesn’t often find as a conductor.  That makes this orchestra unique, and I can hardly wait for the chance to be able to work and make music with this wonderful ensemble.”

Urbanski made an impression in an all-Brahms program at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, as he stepped in for Thomas Hengelbrock.

After his brilliant success with Stravinsky’s “Sacre” last year, he will now dedicate himself to strengthening the Eastern-European repertoire, further shaping the programs of the North German Radio Symphony.

Alan Gilbert to make further appearances with the NDR Symphony as well

As Principal Guest Conductor, Urbanski will work with the NDR Symphony on concerts, tours, recordings,

and educational projects for up to four weeks annually, beginning in 2015. He thus succeeds Alan Gilbert, who has held that position with the NDR Symphony for ten years and will remain connected with the ensemble in future collaborations.

Great Charisma and Strong Programmatic Accents

Andrea Zietzschmann, director of the NDR Orchestra, Choir and Concerts division, says: “The NDR Symphony Orchestra has worked successfully for many years with Krzysztof Urbanski and has supported his career through regular guest appearances. We are convinced of his talent and his creative power, and are happy to be able to connect him more closely with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor. Urbanski will bring strong programmatic accents to the North, and with his charismatic presence will certainly develop a multi-generational following.”

North German Radio and the city of Hamburg have been good friends to all of the Bachs, but they’re especially cozy with C. P. E. this year as his milestone birthday anniversary approaches.

Hamburg celebrates Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Hamburg commemorates one of its most important composers:  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.  In the 18th Century he was more popular than his father, Johann Sebastian.  Bach worked for 20 years as Municipal Music Director and Cantor at the Johanneum–his tomb is located in the crypt of St. Michael’s.

Hamburg is celebrating the anniversary with 30 concerts, as well as lectures, exhibitions, church cantata services and a Senate reception.  On March 8th, the Bach-Birthday, Cultural Senator Barbara Kisseler hosts a grand birthday concert, organized by the Senate, at St. Michael’s.  The Symphony in B Minor, along with other works, will be performed there beginning at 6:00 P.M.  Admission is free.  Birthday festivities begin at 8:15 P.M. in St. James’ Church.

Symbol for the Musical City of Hamburg

Hamburg, together with other German cities, has put together a large homepage about the composer.  Later, the Carl Toepfer Institute wants to open a Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Museum on Peterstraße.  Barbara Kisseler is certain:  “At the end of the year, we’ll have a rather large C. P. E. Bach Fan Club.”  For the Cultural Senator, the Hamburg Bach is a good symbol for the musical city of Hamburg.

Here’s a brief summary of a bulletin I came across in German media:

He was a successor of Herbert von Karajan and had been ill for a long time.  Now the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado has died in Bologna.

The great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado is dead.  Abbado died on Monday in Bologna at the age of 80, as reported in multiple reports from Italian media.  The president of the Abbado fan club, Attila Giuliani, confirmed she had heard it personally from Abbado’s doctor.  He had been sick for a long time.  Abbado was among the most famous conductors in the world and led the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as other orchestras.

The Milan native, son of a violinist and a piano teacher, had worked with the Berlin Philharmonic for the first time in his career in 1966 and two years later opened the opera season at La Scala in Milan.

In October of 1989, Abbado was chosen by the Berlin Philharmonic as the successor of Herbert von Karajan, and five years later was also named as leader of the Salzburg Festival.  In 2002 he ended his term in Berlin and later went to Italy.

Abbado left a deep mark on Berlin.  Visibly suffering from cancer, he returned to the city every year for a concert with the Philharmonic and was warmly welcomed by the audience.

Friend of Contemporary Music

Nonetheless, after his inauguration Berliners initially had to adjust to the Italian, who began with a new style:   ambitious theme cycles and allusions to literature and film, which triggered resistance from musicians as well as listeners.  Abbado had already dedicated himself to contemporary music very early in his career, a commitment that he also viewed as political.  He gave the premieres of a few of the most important works of Italian composer Luigi Nono, and with the pianist Maurizio Pollini he organized concerts for workers and students in the northern Italian region around Reggio Emilia.

Even in Vienna, where he was General Music Director of the State Opera before his time in Berlin, Abbado had to listen to the accusation that he preferred “the difficult and the rare.”  Critics in Berlin also asked whether the model orchestra was losing its characteristic sound.  But performances like Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck” or Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” remained in memory as highly-vaunted “miracles of sound.”

The ever-vigilant @UlrikeSchmid shared a tantalizing morsel of piping-hot culinary news from the website of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  You know how I love to re-heat stuff:

Spaghetti from the 3-D Printer

01/09/2014 … Will pasta soon come from the printer?  The Italian pasta-manufacturer Barilla is working on it.  Customers would be able to bring a USB stick with their own requests to a restaurant–and eat there.

The Italian food manufacturer Barilla is teaming up with a Dutch institute to develop 3-D printers for pasta.  The devices will be sold to restaurants, and will produce various types of noodles at the press of a button.  Barilla confirmed it for FAZ.NET.

Kjeld van Bommel, who leads the project for the TNO Research Institute of Eindhoven, told the Dutch paper “Trouw” a few days ago that the goal of the collaboration, underway for two years already, would be to furnish restaurants with packets of dough that they could then turn into custom-made pasta for their guests.

“For example:  When someone’s having a silver wedding anniversary, and he goes out to eat with his wife, and then surprises her with pasta in the shape of a rose.”  Customers could also bring their own designs on a USB stick.  “Basically, any shape is possible.”

Now the speed has to be adjusted, said van Bommel.  Barilla wants to print 15 to 20 noodles in 20 minutes.  “We’re going to do that,” he said.  “We can now print ten times as quickly as we did at the beginning of our experiments.”

Barilla’s activity in this area can also be attributed to the fact that it is one of the few Italian producers with a large research program.

German freelance journalist Daniel Bröckerhoff produces stories for ZAPP, the NDR network magazine show about the media, and for the einsplus talk-show “Klub Konkret.”  He’s also very active on Twitter and Facebook, where he enthusiastically engages with his viewers and readers.  It would be hard for anyone to foster such a lively presence in social media without stepping on a few toes here and there.  But for journalists, who are often held to a higher standard, the challenge of social media is even trickier.  Mr. Bröckerhoff recently confronted this question in two blog posts.  I’ve translated the second one here; my translation of the first one is linked below in context.

Posted on Dec. 11, 2013, in HP-Features, Media


“Are you really there on your personal time, or for business?” someone recently asked me on Twitter, as I reported live from a #lampedusahh-demonstration.  I had to think for a minute.  I didn’t know.  And I’ve been having that problem more and more often online.

My last article on the question “Publish or Investigate?” prompted a fair amount of discussion.  Opinions varied widely:  from “Dude, that’s just not right” all the way to “Don’t make such a fuss, no big deal.”

Who am I here, really?

The truth can probably be found somewhere in between, as is so often the case.  But in my view it has quite a bit to do with another problem:  Do I always function on the Internet as a freelance journalist, or is there also the private individual Daniel Bröckerhoff?

So the problem is important to me, because there are different expectations for those two people.  The freelance journalist has to measure up to the standards that apply to a journalist.  The private individual can run roughshod over legal technicalities and doesn’t have to worry so much about source-checking, terms, and relevance.


My workplace for today: my kitchen table. Is this private now, or professional?

You excuse a private individual when she passes on a fabricated Paris Hilton tweet.  A journalist should avoid that at all costs.

Which expectations are contrived?

I’m certainly very active on the Internet, using it both professionally and personally, and as a freelancer it’s very hard for me to say when I’m working and when I’m on my own time.


  • I have no fixed workplace like a salaried person, who can define “free time” and “business” in time and space.
  • I have made a career out of my interests, and so I can’t often say, when I’m reading an article, watching a video, or listening to a report, whether I need it for work or I just find it interesting.
  • I converse online with friends and acquaintances, with complete strangers, with followers and colleagues, and sometimes a combination of all of them.  Much is private in nature, much is professional, but the lines here are blurred as well.

Half known, half nobody

I wouldn’t be afflicted by this problem if I were more of a public figure and every word I said could be weighed carefully.  Then the private person would conceal himself online and hold back, as is the case with many colleagues who are in front of the camera more than I am, in order to avoid negative consequences.

But I’m half famous and half nobody.  With a good 5,700 Twitter followers and over 1,500 Facebook contacts, I have a certain range of influence, though it’s not on par with a Lobo or a Gutjahr.  As an on-air reporter for an Einsplus broadcast I’m on camera, but on a station that almost nobody’s heard of.

You have to get used to it: even a conversation meant to be private can be public on the Internet. (Source: starmanseries on flickr, License: CC BY 2.0)

Do disclaimers help?

But even for journalists who don’t rush into the public eye so much, the question still arises, in my view, whether they are interacting professionally or privately online.  Many manage to protect themselves from the wrath of clients or editors with disclaimers like “Tweets are my private opinion.”

Others, the older ones mostly, draw a clear line and express themselves online exclusively as professional people.  Still others have a second account (a so-called “Rage-Account”), in which they express themselves anonymously.

I don’t think that’s the right solution.

In fact, I put it on a par with the solution that goes, “Always express yourself on the Internet as you’d like to be quoted in the newspaper,” and plead for kindness, objectivity, and balance in our interactions with one another.  But sometimes I’d nevertheless just like to be able to smart off online without signing my own death warrant.

I want to talk online. Not just as a journalist. (Source: anthony kelly on flickr, license: CC BY 2.0)

To be perceived as a person

Because I can only be perceived on the Internet as a person, who has an opinion, defends it, makes mistakes, revises.  Who has good and bad moods, finds things silly or great, who rages or  reassures, who is goofy or serious.

That’s the opportunity that the Internet offers us:  to break out of societal roles.  Not just to be the “serious journalist,” who authoritatively pigeonholes and researches, but also the father, the friend and buddy, the clown, the finger-pointer, the depressed one, the fanboy or the hater.

My hope, therefore:  more understanding for one another — and more transparency and insight.  Or is that too naive?


I would prefer not have to decide whether I’m on the Internet privately or professionally, because I can hardly separate the two–and don’t want to.