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December 2011

Prosit Neujahr from Vienna

By FoM

Graben vienna new years eve 2012 silvesterpfadVIENNA, Austria - There are all kinds of parties happening in Vienna tonight: the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein, Die Fledermaus at the Staatsoper, Gala balls at the Hofburg and Rathaus. But, the real fun is out here in the Inner Stadt, where the streets are packed with revelers dancing (and drinking) freely. Pictured is the scene on Graben, which has been turned into a poor man's ballroom for the occasion, complete with Christmas light chandeliers. Less than an hour til midnight here, with fireworks displays both on the Prater and Heldenplatz, in front of the Hofburg.

Whatever your plans are tonight, hope they're just as fun and festive.


Kaitlyn Rostai at Bar East

by David Artavia Kaitlyn Rostai Bar East

When I heard that L.A. based singer-songwriter Kaitlyn Rosati was back in town, I found myself giddy with excitement. I had seen her shows in Hollywood, and they were always full of fun-loving crowds from all kinds of backgrounds. Rosati was always decked out to the nines: feathers, boas, leotards - not to mention those stillettos. Her mixture of Pop, Rock, and Soul create a perfectly heartfelt experience. Her lyrics are funny, raw - and sometimes downright inappropriate. Deep inside those lyrics and catchy melodies, though, she feeds you truthful glimpses into the human experience. I couldn’t miss it.  

When I arrived at Bar East on the Upper East Side, I was lucky enough to get a spot in the front. Most of the audience were dressed in amazing outfits, ready to rock out. When Kaitlyn came on stage, everyone was taken aback. This was a side of her which none of us had seen: no band, no fancy costume, just Kaitlyn and her boyfriend, guitarist Jeff Saltzberg. 

In an instant, the entire place was silent. The very second she started singing, she transported us into her world.  Her songs, such as “Psycho in Me”, “Impossible”, and “Fairytale” all offer a sarcastic view on her life experiences, many of which we could relate to. At one point, Rosati moved to the piano, where she played a cover from Lady Gaga. Halfway through the song she got emotional and started to cry, but when the crowd cheered her on, she regained her composure and finished, to roaring applause. 

For me, the measure of a true artist is that, no matter how small the venue, no matter how many instruments you have, the music penetrates deep in the hearts of the listeners. Kaitlyn had the type of personality that makes you want to be her best friend, and she was incredibly gracious to all that came out to see her. Afterwards, she even bought me a drink at the bar, and we talked about music and her inspirations, and let me tell you…this is one performer that defines professional. 


Tracsson at Rhiz in Vienna

by FoMDSC06799VIENNA, Austria - I tend to pack in my trips with concerts and other performances, especially when I'm in a city as musical as Vienna. But, I always try to leave one night open as a wild card, in order to discover of some of the more off-the-beaten-track attractions. Which is what brought me last night to Rhiz: a bar/experimetal performance space along the Gürtel in Josefstadt, where peep shows stand side-by-side with alternative lounges. Located underneath the U-bahn arches, Rhiz has a real Rathskeller feel to it, its red brick walls tinged with a film of smoke (yes, you can still smoke indoors here in Vienna.) Along the glass walls, abstract videos played to passersby.

Onstage was local band Tricsson, playing an intoxicating, melancholy mashup of trip hop and downbeat jazz; when I arrived, they were in the middle of the slowest, most transfixing rendition of Cole Porter's "Under My Skin" I've ever heard. Vocalist Kathi Steidl - who sang in English - was like a cross between Portishead's Beth Gibbons and Marianne Faithfull, her low, sultry voice hovering just over Daniel Pabst's intricate, experimental guitar. Werner Leiner, who looked like a 19th century nobleman with his drooping mustache, switched back and forth between upright and electric bass while drummer Uwe Rostek unleashed all kinds of off-kilter beats. 

Rhiz may lack the dripping gold and finery of some of Vienna's more notable music venues, but the music heard there commands no less rapt attention. As it should.

More pics on the photo page.


Music Orchestra of Lower Vienna (Tonkünstler Orchestra) at the Musikverein

by FoMMusic Orchestra of Lower Vienna at the MusikvereinVIENNA, Austria - Greetings from Vienna, where preparations for New Year's Day (or Silvester, as they call it here) are well under way. Of course, the most famous event in town is the New Year's Day concert with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein, broadcast each year all over the world. I have pretty much no hope of getting in, as the 2,000 seats are sold by lottery a year in advance, but the concert will be broadcast Sunday morning on a large screen outside the City Hall (commonly known here as the "hangover breakfast.")

Still, 5 Euro got me into last night's New Year's Concert by the perfectly decent Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, featuring many of the same Strauss waltzes and other light fare we'll be hearing the Phil play on Sunday. They were accompanied by soprano Simona Saturová, who sang the "Moon Aria" from Dvorak's Rusalka and the "Adele" couplet from Strauss' Die Fledermaus with energy and enthusiasmConductor Alfred Eschwé introduced each piece with lighthearted comments in German, including some play on Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign phrase, leaving the audience in stitches. Best of all were the encores, which ended with the entire audience clapping along to Strauss' "Radetzky March," just like they did for Herbert back in the day

The cameras and lights for Sunday's concert were already installed: all they need now are the flowers, which will all be in place by this time tomorrow. Can't wait.

More pics on the photo page.