The Berliner Philharmoniker and their chief conductor Kirill Petrenko are to be appointed ambassadors of the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe. This will make them the first organisation to receive this status and to join the UN Refugee Agency’s “Circle of Friends”. The new partnership starts with a concert in support of the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe on 19 September 2021. Kirill Petrenko conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker in a family concert introducing the audience to Igor Stravinsky’s ballet music “The Firebird”. The proceeds from part of the ticket sales, an auction of drawings by the illustrator Reinhard Kleist made during the concert, and donations collected on site will go to the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe. The UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe is the German partner of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). It has been working for people fleeing their homes for more than 40 years.
From 2007 to September 2020, the Berliner Philharmoniker and their respective chief conductors Sir Simon Rattle and Kirill Petrenko were international ambassadors for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. In the 13 years of this successful partnership, there were projects in Azerbaijan and Haiti, special concerts for emergency aid for Syria, and for emergency aid in Japan after the devastating tsunami in 2011, among others. A very special recent event was the Europakonzert in May 2020, which raised over €250,000 for child refugees. With their new partner, the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, the Berliner Philharmoniker continues its commitment to helping people in need. The Berliner Philharmoniker have so far carried out a wide variety of projects for all age groups as part of their initiative for refugees, which was initiated by the orchestra in 2016. These have included visits to open dress rehearsals, free ticket allocations for concerts, opportunities to participate in education projects and performance opportunities for exiled musicians in collaboration with orchestra members.
“Currently, 82.4 million people are fleeing war, persecution and hunger under conditions that are unimaginable to us. They take on great dangers and hardships, and many lose their lives. In the future, we would like to actively support this very important work of the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe as musical ambassadors. We share the conviction that the dignity of every human being is inviolable and that it is part of the cohesion of an active civil society to stand up for all those who seek protection and help,” says Andrea Zietzschmann, general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation.
“It is of great importance to me that we, as a cultural organisation, are also socially engaged. I am very concerned that in our times so many people have to flee their homelands. Through our work with the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, we want to contribute to raising awareness for displaced people and their fates by filling this partnership with life and music. I will get involved myself as often as possible, such as this Sunday at a special concert in support of UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, where we will perform and guide the family audience through Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird,” says Kirill Petrenko, chief conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
“We want to use the communication and public appeal of our orchestra as well as the international language of music to draw the attention of as many people as possible to the work of UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe and to encourage them to donate, both in our home city of Berlin and on our worldwide tours. We are aware of our privileged situation. It is important to us that people on the run are given the prospect of a safe and dignified future,” says Stefan Dohr, principal horn and orchestra chairman of the Berliner Philharmoniker.
“Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker, we want to make a difference for refugees in the coming years and show that we can all do something. All those seeking protection should be able to lead a dignified life and take their fate into their own hands again,” says Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer, director of the UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe.