Buenos Aires opens new Concert Hall

For a long time things didn’t run well in Argentina. And there are still many issues waiting to be improved, especially in the arts sector. Teatro Colón for example is suffering from severe mismanagement.

However, on May 21st 2015 a new arts centre (including a 1750-seat-concert hall) has been open in the more-than-refurbished former Main Post Office, downtown Buenos Aires (“Centro Cultural Kirchner“). Old architecture is combined with cutting-edge technical equipment. Acoustics are reported to be superb. One mustn’t agree with the Kirchner regime in political questions at all, but this new building seems to be an outstanding and interesting new hot spot for the National Symphony Orchestra as well as for internationally touring orchestras.

Watch the government “propaganda” video, which at least offers a good impressions of the new venue and the whole project:

Hamburg Elbphilharmonie: First impressions of Great Hall under construction

After several delays and an explosion of costs the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie is going to be opened on January 17, 2017. Drafted as a new stunning landmark at Hamburg harbour site with great architecture the main question is about the acoustics. However, this will be a challenge and (hopefully) miracle, to be expierienced in late 2016… The promotion video looks promising!

Worldwide unique: The Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

There are many classic music festival around the globe. And there are many festival orchestras perfoming worldwide. But there is only one Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. And this one is unique: Since its first appearance in 1876 the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra is recruited out of a selection of superb orchestra musicians from Germany, other international well known orchestras and a couple of music conservatoire professors. Orchestra directors are (s)elected musicians themselves, for everey section: strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion. They decide whom to invite for the next season. This is a matter of a continuing high standing quality and an outstanding audience experience.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

. Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Some 200 musicians started rehearsing  in the Bayreuth Festival premises in late June. The know “their” Wagner scores for years and sometimes by heart. They love to perform this music in the very special, stair like (and from the auditorium side invisible) orchestra pit. This pit construction is a guarantee for an unique acoustics. The musicans are soundkeepers of a German Wagner sound, especially when Christian Thielemann is conducting. This is a part of German orchestra tradition and an unique orchestra sound. Traditionally, on July 25 the first night of the festival will be open for a prominent audience which will walk on the red carpet in front of the “Festspielhaus”. And listen to an unique orchestra.

Concert halls – Temples of art and cultural work place

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg HarbourConcert halls have to fulfil varying functions for audiences and musicians. Beginning in London in the late 17th century, cities with strong civic traditions such as Hamburg and Leipzig soon also erected purpose-built concert halls. Originally following a “shoe box” design, more recently architects and acoustical engineers have advocated other shapes. Acoustics are, of course, a central aspect for musicians when rating a concert hall.
Yet other aspects are important, too: historical and architectural flair, catering and, often mentioned, but frequently overlooked by architects, a spacious backstage that allows easy storage of and access to instruments. From the perspective of audiences, other aspects gain importance: of course, acoustics are fundamental again, but listeners also appreciate features such as smooth audience flows with short (or no) queues at doors, toilets or bars; seats that are easy to find and that also offer good views; or the setting of the concert hall with good accessibility or beautiful vistas.
Among new concert halls, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg – still under construction – is certainly among the most ambitious. Christoph Lieben-Seutter, director of both, Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle, Hamburg’s other concert hall, knows about their different profiles in terms of size, atmosphere and acoustics. Rather than creating competition, he is confident that they will complement each other. Given its protracted development, the Elbphilharmonie is a good example for the fact that concert halls – established, newly built, or planned – often court controversy. Other topic examples in Germany are the cities Bonn, Dresden, Saarbruecken, Bochum and Konstanz where concert hall plans face opposition for a number of reasons.
For example Stephan Braunfels, designated architect for the Saarbruecken project, knows the difficulties. But apart from financial and political questions, a concert hall architect also has to face other aspects, such as local style history and the combination of acoustic and visual experiences.