The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra arrives in Budapest and dines on the Danube.

July 10, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

As you may already know, the Youth Orchestra (below), the premiere performing group of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, is on a concert tour of Prague, Vienna and Budapest from July 7 through July 17.

Here is a link to an earlier entry with details about the tour including venues and repertoire:

Last month, Mikko Utevsky agreed to blog for The Well-Tempered Ear from the WYSO tour, which is also his fist trip abroad.

Utevsky, as you may know from reading this blog, just graduated from East High School in Madison and will attend the University of Wisconsin and the UW School of Music this fall. He has been featured in this blog and also writes comments about its postings. (You can check him out using the blog’s search engine. He is a discerning listener and critic, and a fine writer.)

Utevsky (below), who plays viola in the WYSO group, is also the founder and director-conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO), which has already performed its first summer concert this year and will perform another concert, featuring Ravel‘s “Mother Goose” Suite and Schubert‘s Symphony No. 5, on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. in Music Hall.

For more information about WYSO plus a link to this blog and Utevsky’s entries, visit:

Here is Utevsky’s first entry, with photos by WYSO’s executive director Bridget Fraser, covering the flight and arrival. More will follow:

By Mikko Utevsky


The Lufthansa flight out of Chicago was very, very long. A lucky handful caught some sleep over the Atlantic, but for myself, I arrived in Frankfurt totally exhausted and entirely convinced it was midnight.

Following Customs (astonishingly friendly compared to the American TSA, I must say — one agent joked I’d concealed a weapon in my viola case, picking it up and pretending to shoot at me, grinning the whole while), we boarded a shorter flight to Budapest.

Our tour guides, Daniel and Nick, greeted us there, taking us downtown for lunch on our own before returning to the Hotel Budapest where we are staying.

I’m afraid I didn’t have long to wander in Budapest yesterday. Having had nothing but a bit of airplane food for more than a day, most of us elected to grab a bite first.

We didn’t need to order in Hungarian, thankfully; most people we’ve encountered speak a fair amount of English. I learned a few words from a friend’s guidebook on the plane, though correct pronunciation eludes me. “Thank you” and “I’m vegetarian” are about all I can manage. The food is pretty good, though, if a bit unfamiliar.

Yesterday evening was our (very posh) dinner cruise on the Beautiful Blue Danube.

In the photo below, taken before boarding the Danube cruise, are WYSO conductor Jim Smith (center) and orchestras members, from the left,  Kestrel Schmidt, Jinri Lee and Christie Cheng with, in back, Ansa Seppalainen.

Admittedly, the river has more the color (and smell) of Lake Monona than anything implied by Strauss’ famous waltz, but that didn’t stop the cruise company from playing that waltz plus half a dozen others through dinner.

The food was plentiful and tasty, and the sights were fantastic – Budapest is beautiful at night, especially from the river, with many of the most famous old buildings illuminated (check out the photos!).

We were all a bit silly, running on little or no sleep for about 34 hours, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The kicker: Budapest is HOT. Shorts, contrary to the rumor, seem to be just fine, as it’s in the 90s here too. We’re looking forward to a day of sightseeing in Budapest today, as well as our first concert this evening.



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