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Hamburg’s Largest Orchestra

A minimalistic piece of music with an orchestration of maximum power: 415 musicians perform »In C«.

When 415 musicians assemble on stage at the same time, there are quite a few challenges involved. And when Terry Riley’s »In C« is on the programme, things get really interesting: this is a composition where every participant decides for himself what he plays, and how long for. »In C« is regarded as the first piece of minimal music; it consists of 53 short motifs, so-called patterns, between which the musicians can switch to and fro as they choose.

© Claudia Höhne

In the run-up to the »Maximal minimal« festival, the Elbphilharmonie invited amateur ensembles and musicians in Hamburg to take part in a large-scale performance of »In C«. No fewer than 415 people accepted the invitation; they started by rehearsing in small groups, then they all met together for the first time in the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall in early May. Here are some of their impressions:

»My ›Elphi fever‹ prompted me to take part. It’s like a dream come true, to actually play in the Grand Hall of the Elbphilharmonie! And a wonderful idea to invite amateur musicians to a project like this, particularly as you really get the feeling that you’re a part of the concert hall.«
(Margot Dosch, guitar)

© Claudia Höhne

»The special attraction is of course the chance to hear how it sounds: it’s not often you have so many musicians playing at once. It’s not so much a musical as a physical experience. We are all part of a whole, but this whole couldn’t exist without each individual.«
(Alicja Mastalerz, flute)

© Claudia Höhne

Like a dream come true

Margot Dosch

I'm delighted

Sven Rohde

»I’m delighted to be part of such a marvellous production! It’s quite a challenge to play technically demanding patterns cleanly without losing sight of the whole thing, slipping time after time into the overall sound.«
(Sven Rohde, electric bass)

© Claudia Höhne

»›In C‹ gives off a very special power! It’s truly fascinating, the effect that the chance combination of the patterns and the instruments can trigger. But it’s also hard to play: you need to listen to what the others are doing and consider how to integrate yourself into the sound.«
(Torsten Hecke, bass clarinet)

© Claudia Höhne

»As someone who has his roots in rock music, I’m kind of used to playing in small groups. That alone makes it an exciting prospect to play with so many other people. But getting more than 400 musicians to play together is a truly daring undertaking! I’m looking forward to finding out if and how the whole thing works out.«
(Christoph Breitmar, electric guitar)

© Claudia Höhne