CHIO Aachen: Horse & Symphony 2017 – more, please!

The 13th Horse & Symphony concert at the CHIO Aachen is a particularly special event. It is at the same time namely the farewell appearance of Kazem Abdullah as the General Music Director of the City of Aachen. Once again, the native US American is demonstrating why he will never be forgotten in Aachen.

For two whole evenings, on Friday and Saturday, the sounds of the Horse & Symphony are filling the Deutsche Bank Stadium. The first concert was already a total success. Just in time for the opening of the gates Petrus took mercy and sent the sun to the Soers instead of rain. That was not the only wish that was accommodated on this evening, since the spectators were allowed to select half of the musical pieces played this year themselves. The evening kicked off by paying homage to the USA, the native country of the conductor. And because his own musical career began in a brass band, that was what set the scene today for this special evening. On their way to the World Music Contest (WMC), the brass band, Rödemis, stopped off at the Soers. What this ensemble offered the crowd in the Deutsche Bank Stadium was indeed world champion material. Marching in step, conjuring up the most complicated choreographies in the sand (inspiration for the next riding club Christmas quadrille!) and at the same time playing excellent music (among others “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa) – how impressive!


And in the same way that the drum major conducted his band, the Austrian Kerstin Brein directed her ponies. A quadrille without riders? It is actually possible! Magic? To a degree. In the background the Aachen Symphony Orchestra namely performed the title melody of the Wizard of Oz, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. The famous soprano singer Emily Newton took over the vocal part and it was child’s play for her to fill every last corner of the Deutsche Bank Stadium with her lucent voice. Then, all of a sudden everything went wild. With Quarter Horses and Harleys, Kazem Abdullah musically sped the spectators off to Route 66. This legendary street once inspired Michael Dagherty to write a piece of music that is as fast and furious as the performance of the cowboys and motorbikes in the Deutsche Bank-Stadium yesterday.

There is another horse breed that comes from America that is hardly known in Germany: the American Saddlebred Horses. To the jazz classic “Take the A train” by Billy Strayhorn or Andres Reukauf they got everyone in the mood for what was next on the agenda.

When Arturo Márquez let himself be inspired by Cuban rhythms and wrote Danzon No. 2, he surely didn’t imagine how wonderfully both two and four-legged creatures can dance to his composition. But the baroque horse quadrille of the team directed by the international Grand Prix rider, Britta Rasche-Merkt and the A team of the Aachen-Düsseldorf Dance Centre really brought Cuba to the Soers.

And when the musical theme is the USA, Hollywood naturally can’t be missing either. Among others, the soundtrack of the cinema evergreen, “Rocky”, accompanied an impressive four-in-hand driving quadrille, comprising of four carriages of the international drivers, Daniel Würgler and Andreas Wintgens together with their teams. 64 hooves dancing to “Eye of the Tiger” raised the roof of the Deutsche Bank Stadium.

Anne Krüger and her daughter Carla, who guided their ducks through the outdoor arena with precision with the aid of their perfectly trained dogs, equally amazed the crowd. It was a demonstration of the perfect interplay between people and animals accompanied by the absolute classic among romantic pieces of music, Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”.


Since it was a request concert, Beethoven was obviously on board! His Symphony No. 9 and the “Ode to Joy” simply had to make up part of yesterday evening’s programme. The most successful dressage rider of all time, Isabell Werth, let her just ten-year-old Sorento dance to this famous piece and gave a foretaste of what the Deutsche Bank Prize has in store for us next week, when the best dressage riders in the world present their top horses in the Grand Prix Freestyle.

However, the vaulters are currently still ruling the Soers. They demonstrated their versatility this evening. Who would have thought that the acrobats are not only able to do back flips and summersaults at the flick of a wrist, they are even not too bad at football either? To Andreas Bourani’s “Auf uns!” (one noticed it was a request concert), sung by Emily Newton, the vaulters gave the spectators a teaser of their athletic skills, performed around King Football.

The event came to a close with the “Ride of the Valkyries” accompanied by Britta Rasche-Merkt’s team, who simply gave their all – including saving Brunhilde from the blaze. After the Finale of all participants with great pomp and circumstance, the audience left the stadium inspired. Thank you, Kazem Abdullah!

Pferd & Sinfonie Foto: CHIO Aachen / Andreas Steindl

Pferd & Sinfonie Foto: CHIO Aachen / Andreas Steindl