A night to remember – Elbphilharmonie

Ever so often you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

Such as last January. We had a 2 day trip to the vicinity of Hamburg and decided to take the opportunity to see the newly opened Elbphilharmonie, which after years of delay finally opened three weeks prior.

So we booked ourselves into a hotel near the harbour, at the top end of the Reeperbahn. Within walking distance so to say.

The original plan was to walk along the harbour to the Elbphilharmonie, have a look around, see if we could get tickets for the viewing gallery and go for dinner afterwards. But what are plans, if not to change?

So yes, we walked there, yes we managed to get tickets for the public viewing gallery, albeit in an hour’s time. So meanwhile we enjoyed the exterior from every possible angle.

The design of the Elbphilharmonie is just breath taking. The bottom part is a large brick building, one of the old dock buildings, whereas the massive top half is glass, which stands proud above the harbour and is beautifully illuminated. ‘Elphi’ (as it was quickly dubbed by the people of Hamburg) was done by Herzog and de Meuron, the same architects that are responsible for the Tate Modern and its recent extension.

Whilst waiting for our slot, we noticed more and more people arriving for one of the concerts, which was due to start shortly.

By shear chance we decided to go to the box office and check if there were any tickets still available for the next performance (and which exorbitant sum they might be). And we were in for a surprise. Tickets were still available and actually at a rather decent price of 12 – 15 Euros. OK, there weren’t two seats next to each other any more, but that’s ok.

So all of a sudden we had the chance to not only see the viewing platform, but to actually see the concert hall itself and experience the acoustic everyone’s been talking about.

For the first few months after opening the Elbphilharmonie was running a series of concerts called ‘Konzerte für Hamburg’ (concerts for Hamburg), one hour long concerts hosted by the resident orchestra ‘NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester’ at reasonable prices, so that everyone could enjoy and experience the new concert hall. And as a matter of fact, the one we went to was the very first of those concerts. Now you see what I mean by ‘right time, right place’.

Unlike traditional concert halls, the Elbphilharmonie is designed with the auditorium wrapped around a circular stage, apparently giving the same acoustic experience to all. My seat happened to be facing the orchestra, so I can’t really confirm whether that is true or not, but it sure has a good sound in there.

So what about you? Have you seen Elphi yet?

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