The OSM in Europe: Five Fabulous Concert Halls

From March 11 to 25, the OSM will visit nine prestigious concert halls in as many cities on their European journey under the direction of Kent Nagano. The tour includes visits to Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Essen, Vienna, Paris, Brussels, Munich, Regensburg, and Berlin. Here are five of them for you to discover!

Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie (March 13)


Inaugurated in 2017, this incredible, futuristic hall seats 2150 and is nested on the banks of the Elbe river from which it derives its name. Situated in the port of Hamburg, 10 years were needed to complete it. The hall was conceived by renowned architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, who are credited with designing London’s Tate Modern.

Kent Nagano, who also serves as Music Director of the State Opera and Principal Conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, is very familiar with this hall. In July 2017, he conducted Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 as part of the G20 summit, with international heads of state in attendance.

Here are Maestro Nagano’s impressions of the Elbphilharmonie:

“Personally, I love this hall. Acoustically, it’s a very honest hall: it perfectly reproduces the quality of whatever is played. With certain halls, due to particular characteristics, we can ‘cheat’ because the acoustics and reverberation hide imperfections. The reason I love the Elbphilharmonie is that it’s completely honest. Sometimes, the honesty can be brutal, but if you play well, it can be flattering. It’s a hall where respect and sensitivity are needed due to the acoustic candour. If you play really well, the hall is your friend and not your enemy.”

The OSM in rehearsal with Maestro Nagano this Wednesday, March 13 at the Elbphilharmonie.

Vienna's Konzerthaus (March 17)

@Rupert Steiner

When Vienna’s iconic Konzerthaus opened in 1913, it was Richard Strauss himself who composed the inaugural work. The premiere of his Festival Prelude for Organ and Orchestra, op. 61 was followed by a performance Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9.

The venerable building, which occupies a central place in the cultural life of this great musical capital, possesses a history that is rich both in its human and musical dimensions, a history disrupted by two world wars and the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. The Konzerthaus houses four concert halls, including the magnificent 1800-seat Great Hall decorated in red, gold, and cream colours.

Between 1938 and 1945, it was used as part of what was called Kraft durch Freude, the “Strength through Joy,” movement instigated by the occupying Nazis to distract the population from the horrors of war by organizing evenings of light music and cabaret.

This will be the OSM’s fifth visit to Vienna and its fourth appearance at the Konzerthaus. The Orchestra’s most recent appearance there was in 2014.

The Philharmonie de Paris (March 19)


As was the case with the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, building the extraordinary Philharmonie de Paris, inaugurated in 2015, lasted was a multi-year project – six years in total. This hall is located in La Villette, in the northeast of Paris.

While its ultramodern exterior, evocative of a great, metallic work of origami is impressive, the curvy, quasi-extraterrestrial interior is also baffling. The acoustics here are exceptional. Its principal hall, named after Pierre Boulez, seats 2400.

Despite the issues that challenged its creation – a process first launched in 1979 – the Philharmonie de Paris proved to be a resounding success. Its occupancy rate is 95% and it thoroughly fulfills its educational role. Four million visitors have passed through its doors since it opened, a third of whom were under the age of 15!

This will be the ninth visit to Paris for the OSM and a highly valued first performance at the Philharmonie. For the occasion, the Orchestra is joined by none other than contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux as guest soloist. The concert will be broadcast on Mezzo, March 19. The first work on the programme, Debussy’s Jeux, will be broadcast live on the OSM’s Facebook page at 3:30 pm (EST) the same day.

Munich's Philharmonie Am Gasteig (March 21)

Gasteig Matthias Schönhofer

Munich is a major German classical music hub and the home of the Bavarian State Opera, of which Kent Nagano was Music Director from 2006 to 2013. The Maestro is, therefore, a well-known presence in this city.

Inaugurated in 1985 by the renowned conductor Sergiu Celibidache, Munich’s Gasteig cultural centre is an important complex that houses a 2387-seat concert hall named Philharmonie. It is the home of the renowned Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Gasteig also serves as the headquarters of the Richard Strauss Conservatory and public libraries. Over 6000 people visit the complex each day, and more than 1800 events are held there every year.

The Berliner Philharmonie (March 25)


If ever there was a legendary classical music hall, it would be the Berliner Philharmonie; it is the home of the Berliner Philharmoniker, without a doubt the most celebrated philharmonic orchestra in the world.

Inaugurated in 1963 – again, with a performance of Beethoven’s “Ninth” – the main hall boasts a seating capacity of 2444. Its innovative design, with spectators facing one another around a centrally located stage, was heavily criticized initially, but would go on to influence and inspire numerous architects and future concert halls. It is considered today as an architectural tour de force, and considering that its designer, Hans Scharoun, did not have access to modern tools such as 3D modelling and computers, the results are even more impressive.

For the OSM, this is a momentous return appearance in a prestigious, iconic concert hall, last visited in 1994, and will no doubt prove to be one of the highlights of the tour. On this fourth visit to Germany the OSM’s concert tour will conclude beautifully with Stravinsky’s monumental The Rite of Spring. Watch the complete concert performed by the OSM in this legendary venue, broadcast on the OSM’s Facebook page as well as on on March 25, starting at 3pm (EST).