5 questions for a Musician from the Audience

The Elbphilharmonie's Audience Orchestra brings together keen amateur musicians. Contrabassoonist Michael Vitzthum has been a member from the outset.

»Für mich die tollste Bühne der Welt« :Interview mit dem Kontrafagottisten Michael Vitzthum

Only professionals perform at the Elbphilharmonie? That's not quite true. The Audience Orchestra gives amateurs the chance to »have a go« – and twice a year, it gives a concert in the Grand Hall. One of the founding members of the orchestra is Hamburg resident Michael Vitzthum, who is responsible for the lowest notes with his contrabassoon.

»You can't reproduce a sound like this even with the most expensive stereo in the world.«

Michael Vitzthum

Michael, you just gave another concert at the Elbphilharmonie before an audience of over 2,000. How does it feel to play in the Grand Hall?

In my opinion, the Grand Hall is the world's best concert venue. There's no other concert hall where you have a better control over the sound and intonation of your own instrument. You also hear the other musicians excellently; you have an intensive sense of their presence. Sitting in the midst of the orchestra in a hall like this is something you can't reproduce even with the most expensive stereo in the world.

I also have the impression that the orchestra always plays especially well here, thanks to the great acoustics. And the audience's applause sounds just as phenomenal, coming as it does from all sides…

Michael Vitzthum
Michael Vitzthum © Claudia Höhne

How long have you been a member of the Audience Orchestra? Has anything changed or evolved in your time with the orchestra?

I've been with the orchestra from the outset, a year and a half now. This was my third concert at the Elbphilharmonie. The first time, I was really excited; that feeling has changed into one of constant concentration and enthusiasm.

Normally, professional musicians play at the Elbphilharmonie; the Audience Orchestra and the other Elbphilharmonie ensembles are the exception. How well do you need to handle your instrument to play in the Audience Orchestra?

The standard is high, it's quite a challenge for the musicians. But the atmosphere at rehearsals is always relaxed and pleasant: there are no know-it-alls telling you what to do.

Michael Vitzthum aus dem Publikumsorchester
Michael Vitzthum © Claudia Höhne

»It's a chance to unwind and really let yourself go!«

Michael Vitzthum

»Film music heard on this stage is better than in the cinema!«

Michael Vitzthum

Has the orchestra changed anything in your life?

The intense rehearsals and the preparations for the concert at the Elbphilharmonie give you a chance to unwind and really let yourself go!

The concert marking the end of the season in July 2018 covered a wide range of musical styles, from Mendelssohn's »Midsummer Night's Dream« to »Star Wars«. What did you like best?

I have a lot of contact with films and cinema commercials in my job, so of course my interest in and love of film music is huge. John Williams's compositions are truly graphic and powerful on the concert platform. A terrific experience, better than in the cinema!

Last updated: 02.07.2018

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