Past Projects


Rehersal weekend in the state music academy Ottweiler with guest conductors

From February 10 –12 intensive rehearsals took place in the state music academy Ottweiler, to which Helmut Fackler, former conductor of the SZO, was invited, too. Last year, Fackler dedicated to the orchestra a concert for plucked strings and saxophone, which will be recorded at the Saarland Radio on June 10.

Rehearsing with the composer the players got new views of the work, which combines elements of different epochs of music. According to the composer‘s imagination, for instance, in the second movement of the concert jazzman Charlie Parker travels through time. Almost 300 years back he meets Arcangelo Corelli, who is rehearsing with his orchestra in a cathedral. Inspired by the baroque sounds Charlie Parker takes out his saxophone and starts improvising.

At these intensive rehearsals member of the orchestra Andreas Lorson also had the chance to take conductorship and to convey his compositional ideas to the orchestra. This young student of music has already got a good name by his productive work as a composer. He has dedicated to the SZO “Fantasy n° 2“, which will be premièred this year.


Radio Recordings

It´s done! On June 20th at the Saarland Radio the Saarland Plucked Strings Orchestra (SZO) recorded two more works of their present programme. They recorded the “Concert for saxophone and plucked strings orchestra” (soloist: Michael Bick), composed by Helmut Fackler especially for the SZO, and “The City Awakens” by Emiel Stöpler.

Matinée at Vauban Health Centre

On August 19, with about 200 guests, Vauban Health Centre at Saarlouis celebrated their 10th anniversary. Dr Carsten Schürfeld had invited the SZO to accompany by musical offerings the festivities on the roof terrace of the health centre.

After the host‘s words of welcome the guitar ensemble of the SZO opened the celebrations with “Kalimba“ by Jürg Kindl and “Introduction et Fandango“ by Luigi Boccherini. The entire orchestra had their turn then with three works after Secretary Monika Bachmann‘s address. As a kind of warm up the musicians played Eduardo Mezzacapo‘s “Andante et Polonaise“. Emiel Stöpler‘s “The City awakens“ reflected the still morning atmosphere of Saarlouis city. And the swinging saxophone of “Cool & Blue“ by Peter Lehel sounded now as a particular reveille.

Then Peter Demmer, future mayor, as well as Rainer Dannegger, vice managing director of the DRK hospital, congratulated the health centre on 10 years of successful work.

To end the official part the SZO played further works of their current repertoire: “Libertango“ by Astor Piazzolla, “Impressioni D‘Oriente“ by Amadeo Amadei, “Second Waltz“ by Dmitri Schostakovitsch and an Aria by Eugène Bozza.

Fortunately on that Saturday morning the weather god was in a wonderful mood, too. So in brilliant sunshine all the players of the orchestra were invited to refresh themselves with little delicacies up there on the roof terrace.

Thank you, Dr Schürfeld, that we could perform at that particular celebration.


photos by Tobias Martin (


SZO ON TOUR – Concert tour to Croatia

On 6th October 2017 the Saarland Plucked Strings Orchestra (SZO) departed on a 7-day concert tour to Croatia. As on their concert tours the SZO is always cultural ambassador of the Saarland, this touring was supported in a non-material way and financially by the minister president‘s office in Saarbrücken. We thank them sincerely for sponsoring.

The journey started in Dalmatia on the Croatian Adriatic coast. The first of altogether three concerts of this tour was given on Saturday evening 7th October in Split. The resident mandolin orchestra there GMD Sanctus Domnio has made an international name for themselves with – among others – brilliant performances at the Euro Festival for Plucked Strings in Germany.

On Saturday 8th October the SZO made a guest appearance in Imotski. Every year in May an international festival of plucked strings takes place there. Meeting the Mandolinski orkestar “Imotski“ and making music together with them was a great pleasure for the SZO.

We then visited Croatia‘s capital Zagreb on Thursday 12th October. To round off the concert tour the SZO gave a concert together with the Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra “Sloga“, one of the best and most renowned ensembles of this kind in the country.

Within their luggage the musicians of the SZO had a first performance “Fantasie Nr. 2“. This work, written by our young player and composer, Andreas Lorson, is dedicated to the SZO. Other works which accompanied us on our tour were: Andante et Polonaise (E. Mezzacapo), The City awakens (E. Stöpler), Aria ( P. Lehel), Cool & Blue (P. Lehel), Libertango (A. Piazzolla), Impressioni D‘Oriente (A. Amadei), and Second Waltz (D. Schostakovitsch).

As is known the SZO appears not only as a comprehensive orchestra (tutti), but also presents itself in various chamber music ensembles. Thus the guitar ensemble of the SZO contributed to the programme with two exciting and varied works (Kalimba by J. Kindl and Introduction et Fandango by L. Boccherini), by which the guitarists could show their dexterity as well as their expression.

It was a great honour to play together with the Croatian plucked strings orchestras at the end of each concert night. On all three nights a Saarland-Croatian ensemble enthralled the audience by Suite Nr 6 (H. Ambrosius) and the “anthem“ of Croatian plucked strings music The Bells of Kaštela (V. Sunko).

We give our particular thanks to Goran Goić, member of the orchestra and born Croat, who as an expert guide presented to us the most beautiful sides of his home country

concert at Imotski dinner at the ethno-village Škopljanci craftmen´s art at Samobor our tourguide Goran and his wife Ute

photos by Michael Bick


Radio Recordings

In the first half of 2016 the SZO prepared this year‘s radio recordings in five day and weekend rehearsals. One of the four works to be recorded on July 2 at the Saarland Radio was Saar Bande, which the south-american composer Daniel Wolff had dedicated to the SZO within the context of the BDZ Euro Festival of Plucked Strings. The name of this piece says already that the music reminds of a courtly dance in three beat rhythm. Cool & Blue for tenor saxophone (Soloist: Michael Bick) and plucked strings, written by the German jazz musician Peter Lehel, carries you away, its tunes creating an enthusiastic sensation. The City Awakens, a programmatic work by the Dutchman Emiel Stöpler, creates impressions of a town still sleeping, but then slowly waking up. Kalimba is a composition for guitar quartet, which the Swiss guitarist and percussionist Jürg Kindle has published in his collection Percussion Guitar Music. The Kalimba is a century-old instrument originated from Africa. Its sounds were imitated by the guitarists of the SZO.

Concert with Premiere

What do Arcangelo Corelli and Charlie Parker have in common? Although the two are seperated by more than 200 years of music history, Helmut Fackler – former sound designer of the Saarland Radio and conductor of the SZO from 1981 to 1987 – succeeded in creating a connection between the two composers in a contract work for the SZO. In this concert of three movements for plucked strings and saxophone the listener will recognize besides elements of the baroque and jazz also well-known themes from works by Richard Strauss and Niccolò Paganini. The premiere of this new composition for the SZO was on September 25 in the Cloef-Atrium at Orscholz. Moreover, on that evening the four works recorded in July at the Saarland Radio and an imposing oriental work of the composer Amadeo Amadei were on the programme.

Soloist: Michael Bick
Soloist: Michael Bick
The orchestra
The orchestra
guitars & bass
guitars & bass
Applause! Applause!
Applause! Applause!

Young Musicians for the SZO

Intensive rehearsals for the concert on September 25 took place in the state music academy Ottweiler on the first September weekend. On that weekend we could welcome new players, who now after long years of experience in the Saarland Youth Plucked Strings Orchestra will strengthen the SZO bringing „fresh wind“. For several years it has been good tradition to organize such a weekend of rehearsals once a year, where well-known teachers are invited, too. From Friday to Sunday in familiar atmosphere and with good food the current works thus got their last edge. Old and new players soon got in contact on those pleasant evenings at the bar of the academy. So once again: Welcome!

SZO-Nachwuchs The young musicians:

Steven Sydow, Tim Beuren, Kevin Sydow, Jaqueline Rausch, Florian Dahmen, Andreas Lorson, Tanja Voigt

New Homepage

The SZO is glad to have a new internet presentation. With new modern layout and up-to-date technics, which support various screen sizes and smartphones, too, this homepage can proudly show itself. We say Thank You to Simon Hümbert for the successful concept and the careful migration.



Pi:Saar Projects: SZO supports young talents

The Saarland Plucked Strings Orchestra (SZO) won a first prize at Pi:Saar in 2014. Pi:Saar is an online competition for the best educational ideas in Saarland, organized by the insurrance company Cosmos Direct. The SZO, successful with a music pedagogical concept for the promotion of young talents, was glad to receive a cheque for € 10.000. With this money the first training sessions for young mandolin and guitar players could be realized. The SZO here once again says a particular Thank You to the numerous supporters, who with their votes made possible this first prize.

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SZO on tour in Sicily

The Saarland Plucked Strings Orchestra (SZO) had been invited by Professore Baldo Calamusa, Sicily, to go on a tour in Sicily from August 8 to September 6. Professore Calamusa had become interested in our orchestra through our internet presentation of the activities of the 60th anniversary, and he at once contacted our conductor Reiner Stutz. Professore Calamusa, who is a guitarist himself, was a student of Professor Dieter Kreidler at Düsseldorf, and later of Professor Hans Gräf at Folkwang University, Essen. In 1987 he got his diploma in guitar with distinction at the conservatory of Trapani/Sicily. Now he is a guitar teacher himself and he organizes many concerts at home in Italy. The SZO benefited from this commitment for the trip to Sicily.

On that 10-day tour the orchestra gave four concerts: August 30 in Calatafimi, August 31 in Trapani, September 2 in Alcamo and September 4 in Castellammare. An enthusiastic audience listened to works by Vivaldi, Mezzacapo, Braun, Munier, Bozza, Lehel, Stöpler, Wolff and Amadei. Rehearsals in place were indispensable for successful concerts, of course, but there was still enough time to get to know the history and culture of the region as well. So the SZO visited Palermo and the remains of the ancient temples at Selinunt and Segesta for example, which are a must for any traveller to Sicily.


SZO & Friends – Joint Concert with Friedrichsthal and Friedrichweiler

Plucked strings music in Saarland is well linked up. What digital media like facebook and Co can only announce or document is being practised actively and intensively by three orchestras in our region.

Andrea Schwamberger, unfortunately deceased at the beginning of the year, was an important part of that network. On her initiative, on October 17 the Saarland Plucked Strings Orchestra (SZO) together with the joint plucked strings orchestras Friedrichsthal and Friedrichweiler organized a multi-faceted concert, having as its motto “SZO & Friends“. Those many facets were shown to a large audience at the adult education centre (VHS) in Saarbrücken both by the programme and by the players; from Vivaldi to contemporary composers, from Catalan impressions to the sounds of an awakening city, the listeners were offered an exciting journey through various times and intriguing civilizations. Besides the premiere of the project-orchestra Friedrichsthal/Friedrichweiler the SZO could as well be heard in seperate formations. The mandolin and the guitar ensembles of the SZO presented the technical and acoustic means of their particular instruments.
At the finale of the concert all musicians together performed an impressive oriental work by Amadeo Amadei. This joint project was rewarded by the enthusiastic applause of the public, who demanded and got several encores.

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