The Philharmoniker’s junior partner

Guest appearance of the National Youth Orchestra of Germany in the Philharmonie

(Photo: Tom Wassenberg)

The Berliner Philharmoniker feel a special connection to the National Youth Orchestra of Germany – and not just since 2013, when they took on the patronship of the youth orchestra. Many of the Philharmoniker’s musicians and internationally successful soloists too, such as Sabine Meyer, Christian Tetzlaff, Tabea Zimmermann and Alban Gerhardt, once played in the orchestra themselves and discovered as a result that they wanted to be professional musicians. Since 1969, the National Youth Orchestra of Germany has given talented instrumentalists between the ages of 14 and 19 the opportunity to gain their first experience in a symphony orchestra. And in doing so, it is one age group ahead of other national youth orchestras which are only open to music college students. At a very young age, the instrumentalists learn the work of an orchestra at a professional level. Even the admission process is like major orchestras: only those who pass the audition can become a member.

Musical ambassadors for Germany

Three times a year, the young people come together for three weeks to rehearse a concert programme under the guidance of experienced orchestral musicians and conductors which is subsequently performed on a tour – an experience that creates a very special sense of togetherness between the young people. The National Youth Orchestra of Germany gives around gives around 25 concerts per year, not only in Germany, but – as a musical ambassador for its home country – all around the world. For Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel and Kirill Petrenko, working with young musicians is something they care very much about. In 2008, the National Youth Orchestra of Germany performed in the Philharmonie for the first time as guests of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, and since then it has returned to Berlin every year.

... and regular guests in Berlin and Baden-Baden

Since the sponsorship by the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2013, the National Youth Orchestra of Germany has also regularly participated at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival where it has a major presence: this year, together with members of the Philharmoniker and under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, they performed Béla Bartók’s pantomime ballet The Wooden Prince, and in addition, the young instrumentalists had the opportunity to attend master classes with members of the Philharmoniker. Plus, what is also an absolute must at this festival: the football game in which the talented young musicians play against the orchestral professionals. Their spring tour, which takes the National Youth Orchestra of Germany to Cologne, Wroclaw and Berlin, begins after the Easter Festival. The programme of this tour is Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by Thomas Neuhoff. With this anti-war oratorio, the orchestra makes its contribution to the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage Sharing Heritage.