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Elbphilharmonie: "an invitation to the world"

New concert hall is Hamburg's "invitation to the world", says Mayor Olaf Scholz - amazement and enthusiasm on opening night

The festive opening of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg enters a new stage Thursday with the inauguration of the Small Hall after a glamorous, ceremonial opening of the Grand Hall and concert by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra on Wednesday. The Ensemble Resonanz, which is in residence in the Small Hall, has captioned Thursday’s events “unknown space”. A work by the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich will debut and be conducted by Emilio Pomàrico. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock and featuring renowed guest soloists, will repeat Wednesday’s opening concert.

500,000 tickets sold out

During his welcoming address, Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg, noted: “Hamburg is sending a conspicious sign of the huge importance of art and culture in a free society. Building the Elbphilharmonie is an invitation to the world to come to Hamburg and visit this unique concert hall and to experience the power of music.” He added: “And as we can see, the invitation is being accepted.” The Plaza of the Elbphilharmonie has attracted over half a million vistiors since it opened eight weeks ago in November. The freely accessible viewing platform, 37 metres above ground, underlines the Elbphilharmonie’s character as a “building for everyone”, said Scholz.

Interest in the music programme at the new concert hall is remarkable and all 500,000 tickets for the first six months have already sold out. The same applies to tickets for around 1,500 music educational events in the Elbphilharmonie.

Spectacular light show

Around 4,500 people from Germany and abroad will have attended the opening concerts in the Grand Hall and Small Hall by Thursday evening. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck and several leading figures from politics and culture attended Wednesday’s opening ceremony as well as 1,000 lucky ticket winners. Around 220,000 people from 73 countries had taken part in the raffle. A spectacular light show to accompany the music outside the building enraptured onlookers. The historic Kaispeicher, the glass facade and the Plaza were transformed into projection screens for a dazzling, colourful light show.

Initial reactions from Germany and internationally to the new centre of music and culture confirm the concert hall’s status as a new landmark. Designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron with the leading Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the Grand Hall and its incomparable sound and unique shape are likely to render the Elbphilharmonie a leading global concert hall.

Early problems

In 2001, the first sketches of the concert hall with wavy lines atop the base of the Kaispeicher were drawn in the offices of the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The public first glimpsed the concert hall in 2003 and were thrilled. Then in 2007, the the Parliament of the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg decided to go ahead with the build and work finally commenced in April of that year. After many problems in the early phase, the city of Hamburg and Hochtief construction agreed on an overhauled project in late 2012. Since then, the build has gone ahead as planned. And on October 31, 2016, Hochtief handed over the completed Elbphilharmonie over to the city of Hamburg.

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