Asian first encounters

The stops on the autumn tour

(Photo: Ivan Baan)

The major overseas tours of the Berliner Philharmoniker are usually under the musical direction of the chief conductor. But what do you do in a season when you don’t have one? You engage a longstanding, well-known partner who is highly appreciated by the orchestra such as Gustavo Dudamel: music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a regular guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker for the last ten years. Together with Dudamel, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford and works by Mahler, Bernstein and Shostakovich, the Philharmoniker will travel to Asia from 5 to 23 November.

First time in Thailand

In addition to the usual stopover in Frankfurt and what are already traditional concerts in Taipei, there are also a whole series of new Asian encounters. For example, the orchestra makes its Thailand debut in Nakhon Pathom (near Bangkok) and will perform for the first time in the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung – in the National Center for the Arts, which opens just a few weeks before the concerts. It stands on the site of an old military camp, and its large, wave-like steel construction is reminiscent of the shape of a fish. It already received several international awards for architecture and urban planning during its construction. The orchestra is also getting to know new cities on the Chinese mainland. Firstly, Shenzhen, one of the fastest growing cities in the world with over 12 million inhabitants. Designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the Cultural Center, which houses one of the most modern concert halls in addition to a library, appears at night as an intensely sparkling crystal. In contrast to Shenzhen, the more than 3000-year-old city of Xi'an embodies traditional China. This is where the Silk Road begins, and where the famous terracotta army is to be found. On the other hand, the concert hall, opened in 2009, is outwardly traditional but uncompromisingly pioneering in its interior, and meets the most modern standards.

Final stop: Beijing

A completely different kind of premiere awaits the musicians at the end in Beijing, when, in contrast to the rest of the tour repertoire, the programme features Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C minor. The soloist – for the first time on an Asia tour of the Berliner Philharmoniker – is Lang Lang: the musician who has made an incomparable contribution to generate his Chinese compatriots’ interest in classical music through a breathtaking career and appealing charisma. The venue, the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA), which opened for the 2008 Olympics, is considered an urban planning, architectural and logistical tour de force. It contains a concert hall with seating for 2,000, an opera theatre for 2,500 visitors and a theatre for the traditional Peking opera with 1,000 seats, all under one roof. French architect Paul Andreu encased the three venues in a glass and titanium structure that looks like a monumental bubble.

Nakhon Pathom: Prince Mahidol Hall
(Photo: Stephan Rabold)
National Concert Hall Taipeh
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)
(Photo: Concert Hall)
(Photo: Concert Hall)
Peking: Nationales Zentrum der Darstellenden Künste
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)