The education programme’s “Concerts to go” series have already taken the musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker to many social institutions, but until now, they had never played in an emergency shelter for refugees. The Philharmoniker’s violinist Amadeus Heutling and his wife, the harpist Susan Harder, went to the sports hall of the Freie Universität Berlin which has been converted into an emergency shelter, where, in a confined space, 250 men, women and children from Afghanistan, Syria, Kosovo, Serbia and Mali, in addition to many Roma, all live together.
“A concert?! Ah, that’s something new,” said one of the residents. The atmosphere was unlike any other concert and, initially at least, there was a certain lack of attention, so Amadeus Heutling and Susanne Harder simply started to play: Charade by Henry Mancini, Gypsy Airs by Pablo de Sarasate, Greensleeves, and Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás. The audience gradually fell under the spell of the music, and by the end, both the audience and the musicians were quite moved: “Unfortunately, I don’t speak your language, but I think music is a great way to communicate – with the heart,” said Heutling. The violinist and his wife brought more with them than just music. Together with friends, they had collected money and after consulting Pyotr Skrzedzeijewski, the head of the emergency shelter, they had bought everyday necessities for the residents, plus cuddly toys for the children. The interest that met this concert has encouraged further Concerts to go to be organised in other refugee shelters.