I enjoyed more incredible music last night during a Karajan Academy concert at Berliner Philharmoniker. Exceptional students attend the Academy to learn from professional musicians and members of the Philharmonic.
It was cold with fat snowflakes falling, so I stopped by the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market on the way to the concert and enjoyed a hot drink. The performance hall was packed with several concerts appearing in the Philharmonie Building. The Chamber Music Hall is cozy and comfortable.
Renowned conductor Herbert von Karajan founded the Karajan Academy 40 years ago. Berliner Philharmoniker concertmasters and symphony section leaders teach young musicians and prepare them for life as professional orchestral members. Former Karajan students perform in symphonies worldwide, including London, France, Munich, and Vienna. Almost “one-third of the members of the Berliner Philharmoniker today are former students of the Karajan Academy”.
The Karajan Academy’s moto is “learn from the pros”.
Academy students learn to “listen carefully to their colleagues, become aware of what the other musicians are doing, exercise critical self-reflection, and strive to be better”. The Berliner Philharmoniker makes these concepts its own. The training program is both a postgraduate course and an internship. Funding comes from private donors.
“Chamber music occupies a prominent place at the Academy and promotes the whole instrumental culture.” Students learn the “specific repertoire of their respective instrument” and focus on early and contemporary music.
Each season, students participate in five public concerts held in the Berlin Philharmonie. The concerts are about “getting to know highly talented young musicians”.
Mendelssohn and Bach
Last night’s scholarship holders were led by Carolin Widmann (Mendelssohn) and Elina Albach (Bach). Albach replaced Raphael Alpermann on harpsichord. Widmann is an internationally renowned violinist. Alpermann is a conductor and harpsichordist. He teaches at the renowned Berlin University of Music and is artistic director of the youth baroque orchestra “Bachs Erben”.
Other than Widmann and Albach a fantastic flute soloist performed during Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, but I don’t know her name. I was at a slight disadvantage since the programs provided substantial information but were in German only. The solo performances were flawless and outstanding!
According to Peter Riegelbauer,
Berliner Philharmoniker double-bass player and head of the Karajan Academy, young instrumentalists get a sense of what it means to be a “complete musician”.
Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concerto
Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra in D minor is “framed by works written by Mendelssohn’s most venerated composer – Johann Sebastian Bach”. The concerto is relatively unknown and rarely performed. Mendelssohn composed it at the age of 13! Last night it featured internationally renowned violinist Carolin Widmann whose performance was indescribably beautiful. Bach’s Cantatas and Brandenburg Concerto were brilliant and well received.
During the concert, members of the Philharmonic Choir joined the musicians and sang several spectacular solos. Concerts at Berliner Philharmoniker have been a highlight of my time in Berlin!