Beethoven 9 in the Elbphilharmonie

24 May 2018
Henja Semmler

Henja Semmler



This might have been the shortest MCO project ever, yet it was one of the most intense ones!

For Beethoven's ninth symphony is so loaded with meaning and history… and especially on these two only days of the project, the 14th and 15th of May, its message and vision seem to be as important as ever.

Matthias Pintscher rehearsed with us just one day before the concert, while many of us had travelled to Hamburg only on that same morning. Making this first day of the project even longer, I had organised a little party which took place right after the end of the rehearsal, rather late in the evening in fact! After a long time of absence from the MCO, I wished to spend this evening with as many colleagues as possible. Together we enjoyed a delicious oriental buffet at a cosy restaurant called Azeitona – warmly recommended if you happen to be in Hamburg! It was a very nice and special evening for me.
More importantly, the concert went very well and will certainly remain a memorable one for me. It was only the second time I played Beethoven's Ninth, and like the first time quite some years ago, there were many "goosebump" moments. It was overwhelming to perform this piece under Matthias Pintscher's passionate direction, together with the amazing Arnold Schönberg Chor and our fabulous soloists, in the sold-out Elbphilharmonie. The acoustic of this hall is not as comfortable for the musicians as other great halls, but I do love this building and its splendid architecture, and always enjoy playing there.
By the way, the backstage area offers some gorgeous views towards the harbour. After the concert, I finally got to know also part of the public area of the Elbphilharmonie, taking the fascinating escalators to the bar and having a drink there with some relatives of mine who had loved the concert. And then I still continued celebrating: the MCO's Hamburg-based horn player Jonathan was inviting us all to celebrate with him one year of membership at his beautiful apartment, very close to the hall. What a nice idea of his – thank you Jonathan!

I think this was the only project about which I must say that I spent almost as much time partying as making music – truly exceptional in my case: one more superlative…

Photos: Geoffroy Schied / Claudia Höhne