The freshly annouced strategic alliance between the Gewandhausorchester and the Boston Symphony opens a new window of globalization in the arts.
Historically, a long standing tradition unites the Gewandhausorchester and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. These mutual ties are now intensified with Andris Nelsons’ appointment as Gewandhauskapellmeister from the 2017/18 season.
The history of close cultural connections between Leipzig and Boston began in 1881, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) founder, Henry Lee Higginson, appointed Leipzig Conservatory-trained Georg Henschel as its first conductor. Subsequent conductors of the BSO, including Wilhelm Gericke, Emil Pauer, Max Fiedler, Karl Muck, and most importantly, Arthur Nikisch, were all educated in Leipzig and also held posts with the Gewandhausorchester (GWO). From the middle of the twentieth century, the connection was reinforced when Charles Münch became the Music Director of the BSO in 1949, remaining in the position until 1962. Münch was also educated in Leipzig and had been Concertmaster of the Gewandhausorchester from 1926 to 1933. In addition, Boston’s Symphony Hall (1900) presents a structure inspired by the second Gewandhaus.
Based on this historic bond, and under the leadership of Andris Nelsons, Mark Volpe, Managing Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Gewandhausdirektor Andreas Schulz are planning a unique multi-dimensional partnership to explore and share the heritage and strengths of both ensembles.
Various aspects of this cooperation include:
Co-commissions and Educational Initiatives
The BSO/GWO Alliance, under the leadership of Andris Nelsons, will feature a series of co-commissions, with new works presented each year of the partnership, starting with a work by German composer Jörg Widmann to be presented in Boston and Leipzig in the 2017-18 concert season. Several European and American composers, representing a diversity of styles and generations, will also be commissioned for performance by both ensembles. The Alliance will also focus on some key educational initiatives including a program that will give Conducting Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center (BSO’s acclaimed summer music academy at its summer home in western Massachusetts) an opportunity to assist Andris Nelsons with his work with the Gewandhausorchester. BSO musicians will also take part in the GWO’s music education programs.
Programming Highlighting Each Orchestra’s Musical Heritage
During the 2017-2018 subscription season, the BSO will celebrate “Leipzig Week in Boston” at Symphony Hall and the GWO will celebrate “Boston Week in Leipzig” at the Gewandhaus, giving each orchestra an opportunity to focus on some of the repertory for which their partner organization is best known. Since its founding in 1743, the GWO has been associated with some of the greatest figures of music history, having given the premiere of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Brahms; this tradition continued into the 20th century with scores by such significant composers as Henze, Kanscheli, and Rihm, among others. The BSO’s own compositional legacy is, likewise, without parallel, including some of the seminal scores of the last century from composers ranging from Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Bartok, to Messiaen, and Dutilleux and a myriad of Americans including, Copland, Bernstein, Sessions, Carter, and Harbison, among others. The BSO/GWO Alliance will provide an opportunity for each orchestra to program a selection of works by composers particularly associated with each of these great orchestras; this programming strand will also be highlighted in chamber music performances, lectures, panel discussions, and exhibits, with the goal of inspiring a new understanding of this great repertoire.
BSO Performing at Gewandhaus and GWO Peforming at Symphony Hall
One of the most exciting components of the Alliance will be a chance for the BSO to perform at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the GWO to perform at Symphony Hall in Boston, giving each orchestra’s audience a chance to appreciate this new partnership first hand. The BSO/GWO Alliance will also explore musician exchanges between the two orchestras.
This segment of the cooperation will begin on May 5, 2016, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra will give its premiere guest performance in the Gewandhaus.
Christoph Wolff, Artistic Advisor
Christoph Wolff, Adams University Professor at Harvard University, Director of the Bach Archive from
2001 to 2013 in Leipzig, and author of numerous acclaimed texts on the history of music from the 15th and 20th centuries, will serve as an artistic advisor to the BSO/GWO Alliance (please see bio below). Further details about the programs of the BSO/GWO Alliance will be announced at a later date.
Quote by Andris Nelsons
“I am thrilled to accept the appointment of Gewandhauskapellmeister alongside my music directorship with the remarkable Boston Symphony Orchestra,” said Andris Nelsons. “It is also an immense privilege to be partnering these two world class institutions—each with their own deeply rich musical heritage — and to be leading them in an innovative and forward-thinking alliance spanning two continents. This wonderful new alliance between the BSO and GWO will give us a unique opportunity to explore each of these orchestra’s great music traditions, as well as create exciting and meaningful new experiences for our audiences at home and around the world. We are very much looking forward to the musical journey that lies ahead.”
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:
There is a particular segment of the tourism business which is growing: musical holidays and short breaks, organized around a particular event, usually combined with other leisure activities.
This sector is fragmented, especially in Germany and Central Europe. Small, family-run businesses are as present as large travel organizations, and increasingly media companies too, seeking to capitalize on their audiences’ affinity to classical music. For musical breaks do attract a specific clientele, often retired, well-educated and well-off. Its expectations are high, as are administrative efforts: packages should feel individual enough, non-mainstream events are increasingly sought after, and planning can be tricky as concert halls and opera houses have a different planning horizon from travel organizations. – The Bayreuth Festival (pictured) is an example for successful international music tourism.
Opera houses and concert halls, on the other hand, see music holidays very much from a distribution and marketing perspective: organized tours can bring whole coach loads of visitors, travel organizations purchase substantial ticket quotas and a listing by select organizers adds to the status and attraction of a destination. For the customers, it is a number of factors that make for a successful musical break, though given the typically upmarket target group it all comes down to attention: to details (like backstage visits), to carefully planned day-time activities (including free leisure time), to friendly service, exclusive offers and high-standard accommodation: the customer is king and wants to feel it.
Musically qualified tour guides are employed by many of the travel organizers. Their expertise is often seen as an integral part of the specific attraction and value of musical holidays. “Celebrity” guides can be a particular selling point, though their input needs to be clearly evaluated – sometimes a one-off backstage meeting may be appropriate, at other times they may accompany the group throughout the trip.
An unique case is the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, which runs its own “tourism department”, organizing and selling its own holiday packages. While the administrative effort is high, the strategy does allow for tailor-made offers and direct contact with a demanding clientele that appreciates a personalized service.
On March 10, 2014 the German Leipzig Gewandhausorchester will embark on its 21st tour of Japan. It will be the Orchestra’s third tour of the country under the direction of Riccardo Chailly since 2009. The tour to the Far East will be preceded by an appearance in Frankfurt and Shanghai.
Thanks to the support of DHL tour concerts of the orchestra will be webcasted live online for the first time: 14th and 15th March from Shanghai via www.gewandhaus.de and www.dhl.com/inmotion, 12:30 p.m. (CET).
The Gewandhausorchester has been a regular guest in the major concert halls of Japan even longer than it has in those of the USA. The Orchestra’s first appearance in Tokyo was in 1961 with Franz Konwitschny, performing a complete cycle of all nine symphonies of Beethoven – the first orchestra to do so in Japan. The Orchestra’s second tour of Japan took place ten years later, in 1971, under the direction of Konwitschny’s successor as Gewandhauskapellmeister, Kurt Masur. Masur was to conduct the Orchestra in 114 concerts in Japan until 1995.
Further metropolises have since featured on the Gewandhausorchester’s tours to the Far East, some so regularly that each visit has become something of a homecoming. The Orchestra made its first appearance in Shanghai under Riccardo Chailly in 2009; Kawasaki has, similarly, hosted the Orchestra only once to date, in 1971. Osaka, on the other hand, has seen 29 guest appearances of the Gewandhausorchester since the first visit in 1961. Kyoto has hosted the Orchestra on seven occasions, most recently with Riccardo Chailly in 2009. Tokyo is one of the cities that the Gewandhausorchester has visited most frequently on its tours of the world – a total of 77 appearances have been made in the Japanese capital, including 15 together with the St. Thomas Boys Choir.
The Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2013. According to Grammophone magazine it’s one of the “Big Ten” of the world leading orchestras.
The tour itself seems to be one of the biggest international concert tours ever seen, presenting 50 (!) concerts on tour. This is an amazing job for the orchestra and the management staff!
Concert in Frankfurt (Germany):
27. January, 7 pm, Großer Saal, Alte Oper, Frankfurt
Mariss Jansons Conductor
Leonidas Kavakos Violin
Béla Bartók: Violin Concerto Nr. 2
Gustav Mahler: Symphony Nr. 1
28. January, 7.30 pm, Großer Saal, Musikverein, Wien
Mariss Jansons Conductor
Leonidas Kavakos Violin
Béla Bartók: Violin Concerto Nr. 2
Gustav Mahler: Symphony Nr. 1
29. January, 7.30 pm, Großer Saal, Musikverein, Wien
Mariss Jansons Leitung
Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung, Tondichtung für großes Orchester op. 24
Anton Bruckner: Symphony Nr. 7
Tour data overview:
Part I – Europe and USA
Frankfurt: Sonntag, 27. Januar
Wien: Montag, 28. Januar
Wien: Dienstag, 29. Januar
Brüssel: Donnerstag, 31. Januar
Luxemburg: Freitag, 1. Februar
Paris: Samstag, 2. Februar
Lissabon: Montag, 4. Februar
Madrid: Dienstag, 5. Februar
Madrid: Mittwoch, 6. Februar
Washington: Dienstag, 12. Februar
New York: Mittwoch, 13. Februar
New York: Dienstag, 14. Februar
Part II – Africa
Kapstadt: Samstag, 9. März
Durban: Sonntag, 10. März
Durban: Montag, 11. März (Education-Project)
Pretoria: Dienstag, 12. März
Part III – Europe
Köln: Freitag, 7. Juni
Paris: Samstag, 8. Juni
Part IV – Latin America
São Paulo: Sonntag, 23. Juni (Open-Air Concert)
São Paulo: Montag, 24. Juni
São Paulo: Dienstag, 25. Juni
Rio de Janeiro: Mittwoch, 26. Juni
Buenos Aires: Freitag, 28. Juni
Buenos Aires: Samstag, 29. Juni
Part V – Europe
Großbritannien: Donnerstag, 29. August
Großbritannien: Freitag, 30. August
Luxemburg: Samstag, 31. August
Luzern: Sonntag, 1. September
Luzern: Dienstag, 3. September
Berlin: Mittwoch, 4. September
Grafenegg: Donnerstag, 5. September
Part VI – Europe
Bukarest: Samstag, 21. September
Bukarest: Sonntag, 22. September
Part VII – Europe, Asia und Australia
St. Petersburg: Freitag, 8. November
Moskau: Samstag, 9. November
Moskau: Sonntag, 10. November
China: Mittwoch, 13. November
China: Donnerstag, 14. November
Tokio: Samstag, 16. November
Kawasaki: Sonntag, 17. November
Tokio: Montag, 18. November
Perth: Donnerstag, 21. November
Perth: Freitag, 22. November
Brisbane: Sonntag, 24. November
Brisbane: Montag, 25. November
Melbourne: Dienstag, 26. November
Melbourne: Mittwoch, 27. November
Sydney: Freitag, 29. November
Sydney: Samstag, 30. November
Sydney: Sonntag, 1. Dezember
As a public foundation, the Berlin Philharmonic is not only financed by grants from the City of Berlin (15 Mio. Euro per year). Ticket sales, hall rentals, merchandizing, recordings and concert tours secure the prestigious orchestra also own revenue on a constant high level. The total budget is about 34 Mio Euro per year. The commitment of major sponsors such as the Deutsche Bank guarantees the continued existence of the award-winning education program Zukunft@BPhil and the DIGITAL CONCERT HALL (DCH).
What could medium and small orchestra learn the business model of the Berlin Philharmonic? The Berlin Philharmonic since 2002 is a public foundation, which is supported by the City of Berlin. The Foundation generates additional revenue about 67 percent of the whole budget to the city’s own contribution. This is outstanding. Within the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation, there are three main pillars of self-generated revenue: 1. proceeds from the ticket sales of a magnitude that is nearing the height of the city’s grant. 2. In addition, revenues come from the rental of rooms, the two concert halls and concert tours of the orchestra. 3. Deutsche Bank and further sponsors support the orchestra.
Sponsors and Friends
The sponsorship money is managed by the Berlin Philharmonie GmbH (Ltd.), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Foundation. The main sponsor is the Deutsche Bank, which finances the education program Zukunft@BPhil, the communication and marketing departments and the DCH with about 6 Mio. Euro per year. The second major sponsor is the Volkswagen Group, which makes the annual European Concert. The Friends of the Berlin Philharmonic support the orchestra especially in obtaining high-quality instruments. These are usually purchased by the Friends of the Foundation and forwarded to the Foundation or directly to the musicians as permanent loans.
The ticket sales developed quite well during the last few years. The orchestra was able already before the creation of the foundation to set the ticket prices itself. Over the past few years the foundation had to raise ticket prices because of stagnant public funding and had to absorb all cost increases itself. Meanwhile, the organization has arrived at a magnitude of about 10 Mio. Euro from ticket sales per year. This high amount refers to the stable attendance of audiences to the two concert halls. The revenue accounted for a total capacity of around 95 percent of the paid seats. The free ticket contingent is lower by about two percent less than that of many other cultural institutions in the city.
In Berlin, the price can vary for concert tickets known to be at a lower level than in cities such as Hamburg or Munich. However, the cultural offers in Berlin are very big. The Berlin Philharmonic takes a pool position with a variety of concerts at the present market. Per season, the orchestra performs 90 – 95 symphony concerts and some 40 chamber concerts. In such a situation prices cannot be calculated as high as at a festival, where an orchestra only occurs two or three times. The ticket prices are in comparison to the ticket prices in the pop music industry very reasonable.
The chamber music hall has been opened for more experimental programs. This created a larger audience. In the great hall the orchestra can reach at symphony concerts, of course, a higher utilization. However, considering that the chamber music hall with more than 1100 seats rather large, some 70 percent of tickets sold are a thoroughly enjoyable record. Various campaigns, media partnerships and support from other institutions have helped the management to increase the capacity of this smaller hall continuously.
The large hall with 2440 seats is particularly popular as it offers the possibility to generate high revenues. Due to the large number of the own events and rehearsals of the orchestra, the large hall is not often available. On stage of the Chamber Music Hall only small concerts can take place due to space and security reasons. Otherwise, there are still areas such as the “Green Room” or the south foyer for receptions on rent. But in the overall balance these items are rather small.
The income from concert tours is very important for the balance sheet. For the orchestra alone it is important from an artistic point of view to be present in other major music centers of the world. For the foundation as an institution, it is also crucial that touring generates stable income. One must pay close attention to financial balance. Not at any place equally high yields can be achieved. The touring business is still an important economic factor, despite the global financial crisis.
At the time Herbert von Karajan already a compaby of musicians was formed, which perceived the media rights of the orchestra. Since 2002, a Limited of trustees, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Foundation’s manages the income from sales of recorded music and film rights. But times have changed. Unlike to other orchestras the BPhil musicians do not get a media package, but the orchestra members can decide on the exploitation of their rights themselves. Purely legal, it is income to the individual orchestra members directly and are therefore not reflected in the foundation budget. While there are agreements under which the foundation of the proceeds of certain audio and video recordings is involved in the Philharmonic budget. This however makes up only a small portion of the foundations revenue.
Even marketing and communications have changed since the founding of the Foundation. As the organization completed the sponsorship deal with Deutsche Bank, it was settled that the presence should be expanded in the medial department. Since then the orchestra had the opportunity to make its publications more expensive. Even in marketing, one can operate differently than before. It depends not so much on the new legal form than with the higher financial resources given by the sponsor. The internet is for marketing of great importance, because potential customers can be addressed directly in this way.
The management is working on electronic tickets, which you can print out on your computer yourself as such as airline or train tickets. There must be, however, a maximum protection against forgery, to prevent in most popular concerts some hundreds of illegal e-tickets in circulation. The advantages of electronic tickets are obvious: The customer would save much time, and the orchestra could reduce administrative costs. At pre-booking-weekends already 60 to 65 percent of the tickets are purchased through the internet. Other distribution channels such as the cash register, the telephone and the written order, however are continued to be kept open to all interested parties to offer a real chance at a concert visit.
The future of the Berlin Philharmonic looks bright: The management has safety in planning for the next time, both in terms of state funds as well as the sponsors. If nothing unexpected happens, the economic situation over the next four to five years will remain stable. Also the fact that the contract has been extended with chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle in 2018, has a positive impact on the overall situation.
The design of the BPhil foundation model is of course specifically connected with the Berlin Philharmonic. The five-year grant contract with the City of Berlin allows the management to plan to work with guest conductors and soloists and concert tours with the necessary time heats. The model of a public foundation that provides both legal and economic independence is more generally also suitable for other orchestras.