A special concert for a special purpose

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FROM: Andrea Graepel

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They found each other again: the church musician Anton Ludwig Pfell and the world-famous violin virtuoso Arabella Steinbacher. © Andrea Jaksch

The old Nikolauskirche in Herrsching is to be converted into a culture hall. The parish has now given the green light. The first benefit concert for this project will be held in the program on Thursday, August 25. Playing Arabella Steinbacher, the world-famous violinist and Herrschingerin.

Herrsching – Arabella Steinbacher is already on the move, when Starnberger Merkur tells together with church musician Anton Ludwig Pfell how the idea for the concert was born. Your plane is waiting, in a few hours you are flying to Bilbao, because someone from Camerata Salzburg has fallen ill and Arabella Steinbacher is boarding. Before the charity concert in Herrsching, the violinist will give further concerts in Majorca and Brandenburg. Time for the festival. From January, the 40-year-old is fully booked again. But he likes to spend time at a benefit concert. “Many memories connect me to the old Nicholas Church. It is dear to my heart that I will play a benefit concert for the reconstruction with my dear friend Toni Pfell, ”he says. “Toni,” that’s what only friends should call him, Pfell immediately points out. As a church musician, he is and will remain Anton Ludwig Pfell, says the 72-year-old. Pfell has known Arabella Steinbacher since childhood. Her father, music professor Alexander Steinbacher, played with the Pfell Orchestra in Andechs. Arabella Steinbacher has also been playing for eight years. She grew up bilingual in a family of musicians because her mother Kyoko is a singer and comes from Japan.

Pfell has long had no contact with Arabella Steinbacher, who has been traveling from one concert to another since the age of 20. All the way to Corona. “Suddenly the phone rang and it was Arabella,” he says, still delighted. There were no more concerts, she felt like a fish taken out of the water, she says, “You’re literally drying up.” As she returned to Herrsching with her nearly three-year-old daughter, she asked permission to play him again – violin and organ. For a small audience, they both gave three summer concerts in 2020. Now that the diocese has given permission to transform the old church of St. probably three million euros with a benefit concert.

As reported, the old parish church has been closed since 2015 due to structural defects. Considering further use, the idea for a cultural hall was born. The political community has already pledged its support.

Pfell prepared an excellent program and arranged it with Bach’s Violin Concerto in E major, Mozart’s Adagio in E major and Violin Sonata in G major, and Beethoven’s Romance in F major at the end. The concert will be played in two parts on the organ in the gallery and on the digital organ in the presbytery of the Nikolauskirche church. “So that you can see us too,” says Pfell, because not only does he enjoy listening to the violin virtuoso, but he also enjoys watching him immerse himself in his own restrained way of playing. Pfell calls it “Japanese”.

Unlike the famous Gauting violinists, Arabella Steinbacher was not confused, possibly also because her father placed more emphasis on musicality. From the age of 8, she studied with Ana Chumachenco at the University of Music and Theater in Munich. So she shared the teacher with Julia Fischer, just as both women share scenes all over the world today – “only at different times.”

And there is one more peculiarity to the benefit concert. Arabella Steinbacher will play Guarneri del Gesù. It is a violin from 1744, which she herself has only for a short time has a Swiss foundation for recording a CD. “Something special,” raves Herrschingerin.

In order not to have to send anyone home – Pfell is expecting a large audience, and requests to register for the concert by e-mail to kirchenmusik@pg-ammersee.de. Free admission, donation to the old church of St. Santa Claus is welcome.

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