Written by Becky Pepper
The world-class trombonist, star of trombone social media and all-round good-guy Peter Steiner embarked on one of his most ambitious tours over the 2021/22 season, playing recitals with his duo, the Duo Steiner-Hochwartner across Scandinavia, the UK and the USA. I caught up with them as they were halfway through the UK leg of the tour, their first visit here in my home country!
I asked Peter about his life on tour, his recital preparation process, organisation and travel,what he gets up to in his free time as well as his special relationship personally and professionally with the amazing pianist and organist Constance Hochwartner:
BP: Where do you stay when you are on tour?
PS: We usually stay in a hotel provided by the venue we are playing at. We prefer a hotel with a king size bed (because we are both very tall!) and a fitness center as we like to exercise quite a bit. It seems to be the perfect counterpart to practicing and performing. I am more into Cardio – either biking or on the treadmill, while Constanze enjoys lifting weights.
BP: What do mornings look like for you when on tour?
PS: We get up early, around 7. We start the day with admin work and emails and we finalise our flyers, posters to be posted on our social media accounts as an addition to the regular tour flyer; they contain more detailed information about the day ahead of us.
BP: What do you eat for breakfast? What do meals look like for you when on tour?
PS: We don’t eat breakfast, but we try to make sure to already drink a bottle of water before even leaving our hotel room.
For lunch we prefer sandwiches or wraps and fruit – something small which gives us energy but does not make us feel too full. On tour, there’s actually not much time for snacking in our schedule. So, we tend to have a big dinner. We are really enjoying the variety of vegan options in the UK!
BP: How do you go about warming up for your recitals? And where does this take place on tour?
PS: Our ideal warm-up takes place at the venue where we are going to perform. That way I can get used to the hall and make sure to sound the best I can in the given circumstances. For Constanze, it is also nice for her to familiarise herself with the instrument during the warm-up – that way we have a much more comfortable time on stage when performing.
We both have our set 45 min warm-up, which we do EVERY SINGLE day of the year. This ensures we are ready no matter what is coming after.
BP: Do you do any work away from your instruments on the music to keep it fresh when you travel?
PS: We always try to do all of the practice on the instrument and away from the instrument (listening to recordings, recording ourselves and listening back to it, etc.) before leaving home. Of course, if we notice any spots during a performance which need some extra work – we talk about it after and find out ways to improve for the next time. On tour it is always work in progress – we try to keep the performance interesting for ourselves and this always includes a lot of discussion on finding musical ways to express what we want the listener to take home after our performance.
BP: How do you choose your repertoire for an international tour?
PS: We always play what we love the most. Over the last two years we have had a lot of time to figure out a new programme and even arrange some of our favorite pieces for the two of us. We try to include at least one standard for all the trombonists but other than that we are really flexible when it comes to finding repertoire.
This time we decided to start our concert with a show piece originally written for bass trombone: Psychedelia – Bertrand Moren followed by the famous Concertino by Ferdinand David. We are ending our first half with the beautiful Aria “Song to the Moon ” out of the Opera Rusalka composed by Antonin Dvorak.
After a short intermission we will be playing another trombone standard: Romanze by C.M.v.Weber followed by a very virtuous piece by N. Paganini – Variations on a Theme. Our dear friend and go-to arranger Emily Horton arranged an amazing version that showcases both instruments equally and is simply so much fun to perform. Inspired by a recording of our friend and amazing trombonist, Nitzan Haroz, we are playing Jan Freidlin’s Towards the Light and finish the programme with Carlos Gardel’s very famous tango Scent of a Woman / Por una cabeza. As you see it’s a very versatile and fun program.
BP: Away from all the practice, planning and performing, what does your free time look like in a foreign country? What do you like to get up to?
PS: We love to explore all the different parts of the world and we are so fortunate to have a job that makes this possible. I mean, for us it’s the perfect situation – sharing the dream job you love, and always wanted to pursue, with your significant other AND get to see all the beautiful spots and make memories together.
On this tour we had a day off in London: half of the day we spent walking around the beautiful city, trying to visit as many of the iconic places as possible, eating humongous doughnuts, drinking coffee and simply having an amazing time. In the afternoon we practiced to get better at what we love doing the most. So I guess the balance between sightseeing and practicing is what helps us stay in shape and also enjoy the places we are traveling to while we are on tour.
BP: There’s obviously a lot of travel involved in a tour – how do you get between the cities and countries of your tour?
In the UK we are traveling by train because we both can’t imagine driving on the left side of the road! The train rides are super smooth though – we have tons of time to talk about our playing and organise upcoming tours or answer emails.
BP: What are your travel essentials?
At the moment the first thing that comes to my mind is several face masks and hand sanitizer! Besides that we make sure to have enough water bottles to stay hydrated, some snacks if the food on the plane does not meet your expectations and you still wanna eat something that fuels your body, a cozy hoodie and comfortable clothes for long train rides or flights are a must, as well as headphones and a good playlist to listen to.
BP: Has anything changed since covid/brexit regarding touring?
Yes – traveling has become much more complicated! There are all the forms you have to complete and the mandatory COVID-19 tests, especially when you are traveling for work. We realised how fortunate we are in Austria with being able to get tested for COVID for free whenever you want or need to.
BP: How do you work as a couple both in business and personal life?
It is a dream come true to share what you love most with your partner. And it was never intended, we simply tried to play together and it felt special – like finally arriving where you’re supposed to be in your musical life. We felt as if we are connected on a deeper level than you would ever think you could be with another musician. We share the same musical ideas and the same goal when it comes to what we want to approach and achieve during our concerts. I’ve never experienced a similar feeling with anyone else when playing chamber music.
Sometimes it is hard to find enough space for our personal life because 98% of what we are talking about and what we are doing all day is music related. But we try to make the remaining 2% worth the while and I think everything works out just perfect because we are so similar when it comes to music and life in general.
We very much enjoyed touring the UK for the first time, making new friends and establishing connections for a lifetime. We can’t wait to be back and play many more concerts here!
Find out more about Peter and Constanze and their lives here:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petersteinerofficial/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/petersteinerofficial/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PeterSteinerOfficial
- Website: http://www.steinerpeter.com
- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/petersteinerofficial
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hochwartnerconstanze/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/constanze_hochwartner/?hl=de
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXDUryfZVnFCe606daJWMTQ
- Website: https://www.constanzehochwartner.com
We look forward to seeing the rest of his tour stateside later this year! Watch upcoming issues of the ITA Newsletter for more details.
This article was written by Becky Pepper, a trombonist, euphonium player, brass teacher, arranger, music writer and animal lover based in Nottinghamshire in the U.K. You can find Becky on Instagram @beckypepper_tbn and her websites beckypepper-trombone.com and trumpet-trombone.com.