Berlin orchestras to stage free concert for refugees

Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a concert at the Esplanade in 2010. He will lead the orchestra in a special concert at the Philharmonic Hall on March 1.
Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a concert at the Esplanade in 2010. He will lead the orchestra in a special concert at the Philharmonic Hall on March 1.PHOTO: THE ESPLANADE

BERLIN • Three of the world's top conductors - Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Ivan Fischer - are teaming up for a concert by Berlin's three main orchestras next month, which will be free for refugees, they said on Tuesday.

The three maestri will each conduct his own orchestra - Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic; Barenboim, the Staatskapelle Berlin; and Fischer, the Konzerthaus Orchestra - in a special concert on March 1, in the German capital's Philharmonic Hall, they said in a joint statement.

The concert, which will include performances of a Mozart piano concerto and symphonies by Prokofiev and Beethoven, will be free to all refugees and aid volunteers, the statement said.

"With this concert, the three orchestras and their chief conductors want to extend a welcome to people who have fled their home countries, as well as thank the many helpers for their hard work and commitment," the orchestras said.

"Music is an international language which can reach and touch people everywhere," Rattle, Barenboim and Fischer said.

"As musicians, we feel welcome all over the world. We hope that this can also be true for people who have been forced to leave their homes by war, hunger and persecution.

"With our joint concert, we want to show a sign of welcome to the families who have fled and a sign of thanks and recognition to the volunteers."

Barenboim, 73, an Israeli-Argentinian who is also a pianist, will conduct the Staatskapelle and perform as soloist in Mozart's D Minor Piano Concerto KV 466.

Hungarian conductor Fischer, 65, and the Konzerthaus Orchestra will perform Prokofiev's First or "Classical" Symphony.

British-born Rattle, 61, will conduct the Berlin Philharmonic which will play the second and fourth movements of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.

About 1.1 million asylum-seekers arrived in Germany last year, seeking safety from war and oppression in countries such as Syria.

While the overwhelming majority of Germans initially welcomed them, a growing number now appears to be increasingly concerned about the social and economic consequences of the massive influx, with far-right and xenophobic parties seeking to exploit those fears.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Berlin orchestras to stage free concert for refugees'. Print Edition | Subscribe