PREVIEW: Berlin Philharmonic

The Berlin Philharmonic
The Berlin Philharmonic

The Berlin Philharmonic is coming to Ann Arbor in a little over a week, and it’s time to get excited.

The world-class orchestra is returning to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2009, as a part of their final US tour under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, presenting two stellar concert programs on November 11th and 12th in Hill Auditorium.

This event is so big that all 1,400 student tickets set aside for these two performances have already sold out. If you’re fortunate enough to have tickets, UMS has suggested that students visit The League Ticket Office to pick them up in advance, in order to avoid lines at Will Call before the performance. If you don’t have student tickets, there are still some full-price tickets available (which, if you think about it, are still a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket to Berlin). If you have tickets, but find that you can’t make it to the performance for any reason, it is your moral obligation to make sure that they do not go to waste.

Once you have your tickets, you can start getting excited about the program. On Saturday night, the concert will open with a tribute to the recently departed, great conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, with a performance of his piece for fifteen musicians, ÉclatThis virtuosic, modern work explores the reverberations of the variety of instruments it uses, from piano to mandolin to vibraphone. The second half features the rarely-performed, monumental Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, a dramatic journey of a work that lasts nearly an hour and a half and includes unconventional instruments such as the mandolin, cowbell, and guitar in the orchestration. That’s right. Even Mahler needed more cowbell.

Sunday afternoon’s concert showcases some of Vienna’s finest composers, including Brahms’ Second Symphony as well as works by 20th century composers Webern, Schoenberg, and Berg. It is particularly notable that the orchestra is playing so much music that was written in the last century, as this difficult repertoire is not often performed on the concert stage.

It’s time to get excited. If you don’t have much experience with going to orchestra concerts, you might want to consider listening to the concert program, especially the more modern works, online in advance, so that you have an idea of what to expect (I’ve included links to the pieces above). However, some people prefer to experience unfamiliar pieces for the first time live, without knowing what to expect. However you choose to prepare yourself beforehand, be sure to arrive to the concerts early, healthy, alert, and ready to hear some of the greatest music the world has to offer!


Composer. Pianist. Free concert enthusiast.

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