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. But that's not all: 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.” 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. 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. Last season, the orchestra performed twice in the Philharmonie: after a guest appearance at Musikfest 2016 with a programme including György Ligeti's Violin Concerto, and as part of their spring tour in March 2017, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie returned with works by Gustav Mahler, Dmitri Shostakovich and Maurice Ravel.
More than willing
This year too, the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie is stopping off in Berlin on its spring tour – with an all-French programme entitled Dreams and Reality. In addition to Hector Berlioz’ passionate Symphonie fantastique, which was composed as an expression of the composer's initially unrequited love for the actress Harriett Smithson, the young musicians also present two works of French Modernism: Olivier Messiaen’s seminal instrumental meditation Les Offrandes oubliées and Henri Dutilleux’s cello concerto Tout un monde lointain ... with Steven Isserlis as the soloist. The musical direction is in the hands of David Afkham who conducted the Junge Deutsch Philharmonie in 2013. What does he find so inspiring about working with the young musicians? “For us conductors, it is wonderful to be able to try everything with an ensemble. There is no such thing as ʻwe can’tʼ or ʻwe don’t want toʼ in this orchestra, only around 100 individuals who are more than willing to take risks.”