Carving a niche in an orchestra-rich town

Posted on: February 27, 2009

In Thursday’s (2/26) Telegraph (London), Ivan Hewett asks, “How do you run an orchestra in a city that already has the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle? Not to mention three other orchestras? Plus three opera houses, one of which has an orchestra that is also among the world’s best?” Lothar Zagrosek, chief conductor of the Konzarthausorchester in Berlin, may have an answer. “The first thing I did when I arrived was to the change the name,” Zagrosek says. “Before, we were the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, so we were the BSO in a city which already had a DSO and DOO and heaven knows what. Now we are the ‘Concert House Orchestra’, so we are identified with our home, like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam or the Tonhälle in Zurich.” Hewett relates how the orchestra had originally been the East Germany equivalent of the Berlin Philharmonic, and was in danger of closing down after the wall fell. Now, “the orchestra’s support from the city seems secure, and the hard-core subscriber base still makes up two-thirds of a typical audience, a figure London orchestras can only dream about.” Zagrosek notes the freedom in programming specifically for local listeners, while the Philharmonic programs for an international audience.

Dambrosio.JPG
Dambrosio.JPG