Hamburg: Elbphilarmonie, June 20th,2018; Robert Schumann & Antonín Dvorák
by Venetia Kapernekas
“The Elbphilharmonie takes inspiration from three structures: the ancient theatre at Delphi, sport stadiums and tents”
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron, architects
Visiting the captivating city of Hamburg, ‘Venezia of the North’ and thanks to a splendit invitation by Tom R. Shulz (pressesprecher), I had a blissful evening attending a concert on June 20th with my daughter Nefeli at the Grand Hall of the Elbphilarmonie, (Robert Schumann and Antonín Dvorák ) with Thomas Hengelbrock principal conductor of the NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchestras, and lead violin Ms. Vilder Frang.
History meets modernity at the traditional port Sandtorhafen in the HafenCity in Hamburg. Approximately up to 25 historical vessels can dock along th380-meter long pontoon area of Hamburg’s first artificially built port basin. Somewhere here at the edge the ElbPhilarmonie stands spectacularly with its impressive glass facade and the wave-like rooftop rises up from the former Kaispeicher building on the western tip of the HafenCity. It is been rated as one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.
Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Sophie Wolter
For the Elbphilharmonie, ( Herzog said in an interview), “one influence was the Greek amphitheater—carved out of the ground, as much geology as it is architecture. Another was the canopies used at festivals and outdoor theaters to protect people from the sun.”
Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron
The Theatre at Delphi, designed to stage lyrical and dramatic productions, was cut out of the hillside overlooking the temple of Apollo during the sixth century BC, probably to replace an earlier wooden theatre.
Ancient Theater at Delphi in Greece
On 11 January 2017, Thomas Hengelbrock and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra have officially opened Hamburg’s newest concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie. That first concert marked the beginning of a new era in the life of the orchestra, which has moved into the Elbphilharmonie as its resident orchestra and finally gained a permanent musical home after seventy years without a base.
NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester (Grand Hall); June 20th,2018 conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock,photo© Daniel Dittus
NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018; violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus
The renowned Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota is responsible for the perfect acoustics in the Elbphilharmonie. His company, Nagata Acoustics, has a long list of satisfied clients, including Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Toyota’s goal for the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall (Grand Saal) was that the hall should assist the natural acoustics of the music but also be sensitive to electronic sound systems so the audience might enjoy rock concerts as well. ‘Designing the hall is something like making or creating an instrument, like a violin.‘ (interview of Yashuhisa Toyota to Aaron Gonsher, April 2017)
The auditorium, the Grand Hall (Grosser Saal) with the ‘vineyard’ style seating places audience no further than 30 meters from the conductor, breaking down barriers bbetweenmusicians and audience.
Grand Hall at Elbphilarmonie, photo©Michael Zapf
This auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form. Algorithms have helped design bridges, motorcycle parts….in the case of the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fiber acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle.(Wired, What happens when Algorithms design a concert hall?)
Grand Hall, white skin at Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Oliver Heissner
The described “white skin” that covers the surface of the walls and ceilings in the Grand Hall is composed of approximately 10,000 sheets of gypsum fiber panels. With the help of an expansive reflector that is suspended from the middle of the vaulted ceiling, the panels project sound into every corner of the space.’ …The 10,000 panels coalesce into a billowy, off-white skin, punctuated only by 2,150 seats and 1,000 hand-blown glass light bulbs…. beauty was only part of the architects’ intention when they began designing the building more than 13 years ago. “Every panel has a function,” says Benjamin Koren, founder of One to One, the studio that worked with Herzog and De Meuron to design and fabricate the panels.’
NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018 violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus
The Elbphilharmonie is located in the historic Sandtorhafen, which was Hamburg’s old working harbor for centuries. The Kaiserspeicher, Hamburg’s biggest warehouse on the water, was built in 1875. Destroyed in the Second World War, it was then rebuilt and renamed Kaispeicher where cocoa, tobacco, and tea were stored until the 1990s.
der Kaispreicher (2003)l resource;bildarchive_Hamburg
Architects Pierre de Meuron, Jacques Herzog, and Ascan Mergenthaler have been working on the Elbphilharmonie since 2003. Herzog and de Meuron established their office in Basel in 1978 and have since then designed and completed major projects such as the Tate Modern in London, the Alliance Arena in Munich and the National Stadium in Peking for the 2008 Olympic Games
Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron
Concertgoers can access the Grand Hall and Recital Hall foyers via stairs and lifts from the Elbphilharmonie Plaza. The Grand Hall foyer clearly defines the character of the Elbphilharmonie architecture with stairs that extend over several floors; 1,000 curved window panels, tailor-made to capture and reflect the color of the sky, the sun’s rays, the water and the city, turn the concert hall into a gigantic crystal.
Grand Hall Foyer, Elbphilarmonie, photo © Iwan Baan
Elpphilarmonie, photo ©Maxim Schulz
Hamburg is called the city of Music. The cost of the ElbPhilarmonie has escalated to 789 million euro. The current music scene in Hamburg is highly diverse; the city is home to three professional orchestras, an opera house, notable soloists and ensembles, jazz, rock and pop musicians, composers, singer-songwriters, electronic experimenters and many renowned educational institutions.
Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf
Roof of Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf
Christoph Lieben-Seutter has been the General and Artistic Director of the historic Laeiszhalle and Hamburg’s new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg,since September 2007. His responsibilities include directing the artistic content of both venues with around 100 events of different genres annually. Lieben-Seutter is also a member of the board of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester…
Christoph Lieben-Seutter, photo © Michael Zapf
a winter morning; photo© Michael Zapf
all photos kindly have been released by the press office of Elbphilarmonie (all photographers accreditation have been noted). Thank you, dear Tom R. Schulz, for the invitation experiencing a magical evening.