Free musicians with an empty calendar


Two musicians, two lockdown experiences. Both Andreas Brencic and Lorenz Spritzendorfer experienced the corona crisis as freelance musicians. However, while Brencic is happy about repeated appearances and orders for arrangements, Spritzendorfer, who plays in numerous different bands mainly live, has been hit harder. At least he could use the time to record a new CD.

“I was lucky compared to many other colleagues,” says Brencic, who has been the musical director of Vindobona since the summer and who also has a solid foothold with his work as a teacher at the “Performing Center Austria”. “Many appearances that were canceled in the first lockdown could be made up – sometimes in a different form”, he says happily in an interview with the APA. For example, the Steyr Music Festival, for which he had prepared a musical, has at least designed a non-scenic musical show several times. He was also able to bring the Halloween evening in Vindobona to the stage just before the “gentle lockdown”. However, the rehearsals for the Christmas dinner show were free. After all, you could record a ten-minute excerpt for ORF III, and there was a sample fee. Now they want to rehearse for the “Culinarical”, which will premiere on January 14th in the Vindobona.

Face financial problems

“This December is the first time in 15 years that I don’t have an appearance every evening. My calendar was already full,” sighs Brencic, who also applied to the hardship fund in the spring to make up for acute failures. “I am not facing financial problems now, but a big chunk is being lost.” Occasionally there were cancellation fees, even from the LEO theater, for which it participated twice in a donation video. “It was lucky that many organizers tried to ensure that at least something was paid out.”

Another mainstay of the pianist and corepetitor are arrangements and sheet music, which he supplies on an order basis, for example for the Lower Austrian folk culture, which needed sheet music for “balcony singing” in the spring. But that only makes up about a quarter of his income. Most jobs are associated with appearances. Teaching was also difficult because he not only teaches music theory but also aural training in his private musical training. In larger groups this is hardly feasible via video conference. Nevertheless, the first lockdown for him was “somehow a comfortable time, when my girlfriend and I made a new website, for example,” says Brencic. What he still finds “troublesome” are the government’s short-term announcements, which make it difficult to plan ahead. “You’re motivated anyway, but without perspective it’s exhausting.”

“Play in seven or eight bands”

The next appearance of the saxophonist Lorenz Spritzendorfer, who took advantage of the slack performance with his colleagues from The Horny Funk Brothers to record the CD “Funky Is The Way We Roll” in the home studio, which will be released on March 6th in the Porgy, is much further back & Bess is to be presented. The unusual ball season hits Spritzendorfer, who plays “in seven or eight bands”, hard. His party bands also had few appearances this year. “People want to dance and not sit on assigned seats,” says the musician, who got around two thirds of his usual income through order arrangements and donations from various aid funds.

“Of course I would rather earn my money on stage than through applications,” he sighs. Fortunately, his wife has a permanent job, otherwise the problems would be even greater. He did have a cushion – “if I break my hand, I can’t appear for two months” – but nobody could have expected a year of loss of income.

After all, there were also no major appearances at festivals, for example with Marc Pircher, Rats Are Back or the Wolfgang Lindner Band. The latter has at least recently participated in the recording of the “New Year’s Eve Show” in Offenburg. Spritzendorfer is not counting on the year 2021 either, as organizers would have to plan up to a year in advance, which is currently not possible. “The cultural sector was the first to close and will likely be the last to reopen.” He would like the government to “take a closer look. There have been and are good concepts for holding concerts, and in the summer it worked well even without proven infections.” (apa)

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