I found Chicago in the middle of Poland

I found Chicago in the middle of Poland


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2018

From our quartet diarist Anthea Kreston:

Three concerts in three different worlds. The first – in Wroclaw (Breslau) Poland. I decided to drive myself there – as an American, our road trips are a fundamental part of our psyches – a chance to free-associate, blast the speakers (I chose Jeff Buckley and Beatles), eat ‘food’ we would never admit to eating, and take stock of our lives. As I drove, my arm wind-surfing out of the window, the large, single-crop fields, delineated by thin rows of trees – I could swear I was in Wisconsin – the only difference were the outlines of castles on the horizon instead of red barns.

As I drove into town, I was struck by the familiarity of the men – stalky, muscular, with t-shirts a teeny bit too tight, sunglasses, baseball hats, even a few faux-hawks and Chicago Bulls shirts. It was like walking in the suburbs of Chicago. I mentioned this to the guy behind the hotel desk, and he said – ‘You are from Chicago? We call Chicago our 17th state – third highest Polish population in the world.’

Next stop, upper Bavaria – to the summer residence of the Bavarian King Ludwig I, where I stayed on the grounds, inside a grand historic building. Out of my windows I looked directly down the perfectly manicured gardens, while the sounds of horse-drawn carriages drifted by. Here is a live web-cam link. http://www.villa-schwan.de/services-view/live-webcam/

The glorious ballroom, with a chandelier bigger than my living room, had a traditional Bavarian painted ceiling. Yes, I ate spaetzel and drank a nice, big beer.

Final stop, Zurich, where I stayed in a very modern hotel, in an industrial section of town. The Tonhalle Maag is the temporary home of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, and the acoustics are spectacular – it is a varnished spruce box placed inside a historic gear factory. The industrial cage is clearly visible – and the smell of freshly cut wood pervades the structure (the backstage is still very roughly constructed, with bald drywall and exposed wires).

Home now, I am settling back into my life, and woodshedding before our final recording block, before heading back for a glorious month in the States. Next week this time I will be in the Pacific Northwest, kicking back and enjoying absolutely everything and doing absolutely nothing.


  • Sue says:

    A wonderfully evocative read. Thank you.

    • Dave Fiske says:

      Very evocative, I lived in Chicago for years. It was often like living in the middle of Poland. I loved it there.

  • Marg says:

    Thanks for taking us along on the whirlwind tour Anthea. I’m really glad to read you will very soon be having a REST. You have had a pretty tough six months and I’m happy you will be taking it easy with family, friends, familiar food, and scenery you love and respond to. And have a great Fourth!!