Opening Ceremony for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Photograph: Michael Zapf Last night, a ceremony and the inaugural concert marked the official opening of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

The concert hall is the new musical heart of the northern German metropolis. The spectacular venue uses its architecture and its programme to combine artistic excellence with the utmost in openness and accessibility. Designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and located between the city and the harbour, the Elbphilharmonie unites the former Kaispeicher warehouse with a new glass structure featuring wave-like peaks and valleys on top. In addition to three concert halls, among other features, the building is home to a hotel and a viewing platform which is open to the public and which underscores the new landmark’s character as a »house for all«.

A ceremony in the Grand Hall marked the beginning of the opening festivities. Guests included German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and numerous other high-ranking representatives from the worlds of politics and culture. For the occasion, addresses were given by German Federal President Joachim Gauck, Mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz, Christoph Lieben-Seutter, General and Artistic Director of the Elbphilharmonie, and Jacques Herzog from Herzog & de Meuron.

Opening Ceremony for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, Wiebke Lehmkuhl, Pavol Breslik & Sir Bryn Terfel
Photograph: Michael Zapf In the Grand Hall, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under the direction of its Chief Conductor Thomas Hengelbrock performed with the choir of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, and soloists Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Camilla Tilling (soprano), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (mezzo-soprano), Pavol Breslik (tenor) and Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone).

One of the highlights was the first performance of a work commissioned specially for the occasion by the German contemporary composer Wolfgang Rihm entitled »Reminiszenz Triptychon und Spruch in memoriam Hans Henny Jahnn« for Tenor and Orchestra. The programme also included Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in D minor, giving perfect expression to the festive atmosphere of the new concert hall and giving a glimpse of the outstanding work undertaken by acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.

During the concert, the façade of the Elbphilharmonie was transformed into a canvas for a spectacular light display, interpreting the music played inside the Grand Hall in light and colour in real time projections on to the building’s façade.


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