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I´ve been a fan of Martin´s for a long time and really wanted to include him in an episode of Sarah´s Music. But he is one of the busiest people I know! So when I asked him if we could feature him, he offered me a deal, ‘Ok but only if you play with us during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest’! I didn’t need much persuading.. Martin´s ensemble, the Percussive Planet, are fantastic and he often includes brass. The only problem for me was that Martin insisted I play on a Vienna Horn, which is quite different to play than my own horn. But when in Vienna, do as the Viennese do…so I borrowed a Vienna Horn from my colleague Wolfgang Vladar, 3rd horn of the Vienna Philharmonic, and off to Vienna I went.

The first rehearsal went all day – we were playing live in the hall but to a playback track which the group had recorded the week before in an all night recording session. We´d all learned the piece by heart and had a click track in our ears to keep us in time. I was chosen to be one of the two “horn-players-on-the-steps” so was sent to the back of the hall for the beginning of the rehearsal. The Vienna Stadthalle is huge (seats 16,000 people) and we had approximately 1 minute to run…and I mean really run!….from our stairs at the back of the hall to the stage to be ready for our next entrance. We did a lot of running during that first rehearsal…

Two weeks later we were back and the entire show was rehearsed three times over two before the live event. I was so impressed and fascinated by the people behind the scenes making every little detail work with perfect timing. The stagehands had 5 mins 30 seconds to get 2 truckloads of instruments on stage and in place, they had been practicing it every day for 2 weeks and had green lasers from the ceiling showing them the positions. It was incredible and worked every time. Kudos to the whole Eurovision Song Contest team!

On the night, we had a several hours of waiting backstage for our 9 minute performance live to 200, 000 people – but we had a lot of fun. See what went on in the wonderful photos from Katharina Ziedeck ( 32-45 in the Gallery) and in the outtakes. Martin´s parents, Sieglinde and Martin ‘The Chief’ Senior were in charge of the organization and did a fabulous job. Brand Martin Grubinger is a real family business!

I used to watch the Eurovision Song Contest when I was a teenager in the UK and loved it. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but to be part of it was really mind-blowing. The organisation, the venue, the perfection, the people – I absolutely adored being part of it. Martin and his Percussive Planet ROCK!