Roaring Twenties: Swing to Live Music on the Stage of the Isarphilharmonie

Roaring Twenties: Swing to Live Music on the Stage of the Isarphilharmonie Respected band leader and violinist Sissi Gossner with the Odeon Tanzorchester Odeon Tanzorchester

When the Odeon Tanzorchester strikes up on 11 June, that will be the signal for the stage of the Isarphilharmonie to transform into a dance floor for all the participants. One of the few female band leaders in Europe, Sissi Gossner tells us how the ensemble has opened up her world.

Munich’s Odeon Tanzorchester is one of Europe’s most prestigious ensembles, breathing new life into the nostalgic and original sounds of the music of the 20s, 30s and 40s. The Odeon’s repertoire ranges from Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman to the songs of Zarah Leander and Marlene Dietrich. With a line-up of six, the ensemble is inviting people to dance to the music at Gasteig HP8, played on original instruments like the violophone and a 1920s accordion. Sissi Gossner, who leads the Odeon Tanzorchester says: »Although much of the music actually dates from the 30s and 40s, it’s all part of the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.« But dance enthusiasts will also get to hear a mix of dance music including the cha-cha-cha, rumba, waltz and swing when the venue on the banks of the Isar opens its doors for the event.

Singer Albrecht Weech is also a feast for the eyes © Odeon Tanzorchester

»Our musicians wear outfits from the 1920s and audiences are welcome to follow suit!«
Odeon band leader Sissi Gossner

Gossner studied violin at the Munich Conservatory and has led the Tanzorchester since 1993. Talking about her work, she says: »The musical direction is just a small fraction of everything that goes into an evening like this. You need to know people and understand what makes them tick and be able to organise things.« She discovered Odeon in 1984 when the ensemble was looking for a violinist who could also play the glockenspiel. Gossner went along to the first rehearsal and fell in love immediately, reminiscing: »It was right up my street.« When she took on the leadership of the Tanzorchester, it was still a mixture of amateur and professional musicians. A New Year’s Eve gig in 1998, at which they were joined by a few musicians from the Hugo Strasser orchestra, prompted her to turn the Odeon into a professional ensemble.

That was when the Odeon took on its current form as a versatile ensemble with top-notch musicians, capable of performing as a trio, with a 6- or 8-strong line-up, or as a big band at weddings, balls, galas and concerts. »The Odeon has opened up a whole new world for me«, says Gossner, who grew up in the country with no other professional musicians in the family.  Flying for the first time as a member of the Tanzorchester, she has visited places and attended festivities that she would otherwise never have experienced. Leading an orchestra like this is also a big responsibility – including sleepless nights before major TV or CD recordings, as Gossner can attest to. But she’s eagerly anticipating their appearance on stage in the Isarphilharmonie on 11 June.

»I haven’t visited the Gasteig HP8 or the new concert hall yet and I’m really looking forward to it!«
Odeon band leader Sissi Gossner

Join us at the Isarphilharmonie on 11 June to learn swing era dances – from the Turkey Trot and the Peabody to the Charleston – with the »Swing and the City« dance school and then try them out to the music of the Odeon Tanzorchester. Click here for the programme for »Tanz den Gasteig« on Saturday, 11 June 2022 at Gasteig HP8.

Interview and text: Anna Steinbauer

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