»Seid umschlungen, Millionen«

Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Brandenburg Gate

A magical moment: summer weather and later a starry night sky over the Brandenburg Gate, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of its new chief conductor Kirill Petrenko, and 35,000 spectators who witnessed this event live. After the final movement with the famous final chorus of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” died away, thunderous applause broke out for Kirill Petrenko, the orchestra, the Rundfunkchor Berlin and the soloists. “That was sheer goose bumps,” said a spectator who travelled specifically for the event. One young visitor was most impressed by how much fun Kirill Petrenko had conducting. A guest from abroad praised the fact that so many people in Germany would appear not only for football but also for concert broadcasts.

A wonderful atmosphere

This free concert, which was broadcast live on the German tv channel rbb and in the Digital Concert Hall, was also seen by the musicians as something very special: “It was a dream! Playing here in front of the Brandenburg Gate and introducing our chief conductor to Berliners and visitors to the city in this wonderful atmosphere – you really couldn't wish for anything more beautiful,” said principal cellist and media board director Olaf Maninger. “We've never played in front of the Brandenburg Gate before,” adds Knut Weber, cellist and orchestra board director of the Philharmoniker, “and in the nearly 140-year history of the orchestra, there have only been seven chief conductors. It was a joy to play here for all of Berlin right after the inauguration.” It was Kirill Petrenko’s wish to perform Beethoven’s Ninth at this location, explains Andrea Zietzschmann, general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Especially since this piece not only has a unique place in musical literature, but also because of its humanistic vision of the brotherhood of all mankind. “The symphony is an important piece of the orchestral repertoire,” says Andrea Zietzschmann. “And presenting it here at this historic location 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall sends a strong message to the world.”

The open-air concert at the Brandenburg Gate took place with the kind support of Deutsche Bank and the Friends of the Berliner Philharmoniker.