Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Berlin’s influential Philharmonie

Posted on: December 24, 2013

In Sunday’s (12/22) New York Times, Rebecca Schmid reports, “At concert halls from Los Angeles to Tokyo, most audiences today experience orchestral music from seating that wraps around the stage at various levels, allowing a proximity even from the upper balconies. None of this would have been imaginable, however, until the Philharmonie opened near Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz in 1963. While the conventional hall juxtaposes the orchestra squarely against the audience, the terraced or ‘vineyard’-style seating design of the German architect Hans Scharoun creates a circle of listeners around the stage—integrating them into the action rather than creating a hierarchical division. This season, the Berlin Philharmonic is commemorating the anniversary of its iconic concert hall, which created a new model for orchestras and architects around the world. In October, 50 years after an opening concert under the direction of Herbert von Karajan, Simon Rattle conducted a gala concert exploring the hall’s spatial acoustics; a performance of Schoenberg’s ‘Gurrelieder’; and a revival of Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion,’ in a staging by Peter Sellars. The production will open Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival next autumn at the Park Avenue Armory.… Rattle has described the sensation of ‘being able to touch the musicians and most of the audience’ while conducting there.”

Posted December 24, 2013