It is seen as a training ground for young orchestral musicians: the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie gives instrumentalists aged 18 to 28 the opportunity to gain their first experience in an orchestra at a professional level. The members, who have to pass an audition to qualify and who all study at German conservatories, are among the best in their field and all want to be orchestra musicians. “The young students are full of idealism,” says Jonathan Nott, chief conductor and artistic advisor since 2014. “They have a desire to learn and make music with good people.” Several times a year, the orchestra comes together for intensive rehearsals in preparation for their spring and autumn tour programmes. In this way, the young musicians can prepare themselves for their future careers. But not only that: The Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, founded in 1974, is also an orchestra in which the members are democratically involved in the programming and the choice of conductors and soloists. Contemporary music is an important focus of the repertoire and a must for almost every concert programme.
The concerts that the orchestra has given in the Berlin Philharmonie are a testament to the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie’s distinctive programming. For its first appearance at the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation in 2002, the programme included excerpts from Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde and Hans Werner Henze’s Tristan Préludes in addition to Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 45. At its most recent appearance at the Philharmonie at the invitation of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation in 2015, the young musicians presented Sofia Gubaidulina’s Viola Concerto with Antoine Tamestit as the soloist, plus Anton Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. What is it about working with the student orchestra that appeals to the violist? “All these young people are so eager to do well, and put all their heart into the music and into the concert.” Following its guest appearance at Musikfest 2016, the orchestra now comes to Berlin again at the invitation of the Philharmoniker on 12 March as part of its spring tour. The programme is entitled Swan song, and consists of Mahler’s harrowing Kindertotenlieder and Dmitri Shostakovich’s final symphony, two works that focus on the finite nature of being. The programme, however, opens in a more cheerful and lively mood with Maurice Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimental. The soloist is the mezzo-soprano Michelle Breedt, and the conductor is Jonathan Nott. According to violist Gabriel Müller, the musicians want to inspire their peers in particular with their enthusiasm: “We see it as our mission – and also an opportunity – to make classical music more accessible to young people and to familiarise them with the instruments and the orchestra.”