Sep 02 2013
We moved on the Reichstag, where a long line waited to clear security to visit the dome. Then we hurried back through the tall trees of the Tiergarten.Back a the Berlin Philharmonie, I interviewed Robert Zimmerman and Christoph Franke who together dreamed up the plan of putting all the concerts from the Philharmonie on the Internet – on demand and live. It costs millions of Euros with no government support, and has yet to become profitable. The look and sound are spectacular. They invited me to watch the concert with them in the control room, where a staff of seven smoothly and happily rolls through the concert. They were especially impressed with Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley, giving me the thumbs up sign when he soloed. The director jumped up at the last note of the Waltz from “Der Rosenkavalier” and said he had to catch a train, leaving the others to finish the webcast. They cheered for each staff member as their credits rolled on the screen. The transmission included some drama, since there had been internet distribution problems which had to be resolved at the last moment .
The remote for the control room’s Sony TV can bring up the Digital Concert Hall, YouTube, NPR, and many other internet streams.Christoph showed me the separate audio control room where all the Berlin Philharmonic CDs are produced. The same enormous B&W 801 speakers sit in the WQED-FM control room. I enjoyed seeing the spot high above the stage where the announcer sits for live broadcasts. In the lobby, the festival director praised the orchestra and Manfred Honeck came to the microphone to say how happy he was to be in Berlin with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Pretzels, canapés, beer, and wine were distributed to attendees.
One of the first reviews appeared in Berlin’s Tagesspiegel which was a very mixed bag, praising and finding fault at the same time. The European critics praise the power of the American brass but at the same time take issue with it.My friend Ken Nein has been living in Berlin for nearly forty years. He came to visit me on Sunday morning for breakfast. We walked next door to the Alexanderplatz, the former “no man’s land” of the Berlin Wall, which has been completely redeveloped and is now a film museum, theater, and restaurant shopping complex known as the Sony Center.
There are still several classical radio stations in Berlin. Kulturradio RBB had a freestanding exhibit in the lobby with heavy elaborate printed program guides and the tag line “Kultur ist Uberall!”, or “Culture is Foremost!” I also listened a bit to Klassikradio which is a bit more pop-hit driven. After I listened to Emanuel Ax play Chopin, Kulturradio featured a program of Sunday morning spiritual music by Schutz, Schein, and Max Reger .
It’s a national election in just a few days, so Angela Merkel is featured heavily on posters that suggest “Deutschland ist stark so muss es bleiben.” Germany is strong, it must stay that way.The Berlin Air charter got underway after a determined customs agent methodically checked everyone in a long slow line. The flight attendants wore hot pink shirts and blue jeans. Everyone received a heart-shaped chocolate on arrival in Bucharest.