The Elbphilharmonie maintains as many as five in-house ensembles. For young or old, with or without any musical experience – everyone who wants to join in will find the right format. The ensemble members, all of them amateurs, rehearse a concert programme at weekly sessions, which they then perform to the public. We went to the final concerts given by the Gamelan Ensemble and the Audience Orchestra.
After the official opening of the Elbphilharmonie, a much-travelled set of instruments was also put into operation: the gamelan, a traditional Indonesian gong orchestra. The specimen at the Elbphilharmonie is formed of 45 individual instruments: bronze gongs in different sizes, metallophones, xylophones, drums and stringed instruments.
What makes the gamelan special is that it’s always played in a group. Thus, a permanent ensemble came into being at the Elbphilharmonie, and it appeared before an audience for the first time on 28 January.
Even rehearsals with the Audience Orchestra are quite an experience for many musicians, e.g. for Wiebke Gronemeyer, who plays the oboe and the cor anglais: »It’s a wonderful experience to immerse yourself in an ensemble like this once a week.« And the actual concert, she goes on, puts the icing on the cake: »If you live in Hamburg and you witnessed the construction work and the completion of the building at first hand, the chance to play at the Elbphilharmonie is the high point in an amateur musician’s career,« says trumpeter Matthias Witt.
The orchestra performs on 21 January in the sold-out Grand Hall under the baton of their conductor Michael Petermann, director of the Hamburger Konservatorium.