European concert from the empty Philharmonie Berlin with Kirill Petrenko

Live broadcast on TV, on radio and free of charge in the Digital Concert Hall

Kirill Petrenko
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)

Since 1991, the Berliner Philharmoniker have celebrated the day of their founding on 1 May with the European Concert in a location of historical significance. This year, the television concert was originally intended to take place in Tel Aviv as a prelude to a major European tour. The concert was also to be part of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's state visit to Israel. Due to the worldwide corona pandemic, the state visit had to be postponed and the entire tour, including the European concert, had to be cancelled.

On television in 80 countries

With the help of their long-standing media partners rbb and EuroArts, the Berliner Philharmoniker have managed at short notice to arrange to show the concert as a live broadcast from the Philharmonie Berlin on German television channel Das Erste, on radio on rbbKultur and free of charge online in the Digital Concert Hall. The broadcast will also be shown in over 80 other countries. In order to comply with all social distancing rules and hygiene requirements under these special circumstances, the programme has been adapted to a chamber music ensemble. The new programme presents works by Arvo Pärt, György Ligeti, Samuel Barber and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in an arrangement for chamber ensemble by Erwin Stein. Soloist ist soprano Christiane Karg. Federal President Steinmeier will now open the European Concert in the empty Philharmonie with a short speech.

Message of solidarity

Andrea Zietzschmann, general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker, chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and the orchestra board members said in a joint statement: “We are very grateful to all those involved to make it possible for the European Concert to take place in these difficult times. This concert has always been about a united Europe, a message that seems more important to us today than ever. With this concert, we want to entertain our audience worldwide and send them a message of solidarity.” Patricia Schlesinger, intendant of rbb, added: “The European Concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker is traditionally of particular symbolic power and is all about solidarity. In times when we have to give up the unlimited freedoms we enjoy in Europe, we are united thanks to the music of this unique orchestra. To be able to broadcast this concert is a special pleasure for us, especially now.”

With their European Concert, the Berliner Philharmoniker and their chief conductor Kirill Petrenko are supporting UNICEF’s emergency assistance for the protection of child refugees.