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article imageDigital Concert Hall brings Berlin Philharmonic directly to you

By Jack Derricourt     Jun 2, 2017 in Entertainment
For lovers of classical music, the Berlin Philharmonic is a name that denotes excellence matched by few other orchestras the world over.
While many of fans of the orchestra may never set foot inside the gorgeous Philharmonie concert house in Berlin, they can enjoy high quality recordings of the performances on the orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall streaming service.
The way people engage with classical music is changing. Streaming on and YouTube has brought a love of classical music to corners of the world that may not even have a place to watch performances take place live, and has bolstered that passion in places where it had already taken root.
In his recent interview with Digital Journal, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Peter Oundjian spoke about the changing environment classical orchestras must work within:
“It’s a much more direct communication now,” said Oundjian. “We tend to play with a sense of event all the time. There’s a lot of excitement around a concert. We know we need to do that. Let’s face it — there’s a lot of entertainment out there. Thirty years ago there wasn’t that kind of entertainment available. When people decide to buy a ticket to come to a concert we better make it worth their while.”
Orchestras have had to change with the times to engage audiences in new, innovative ways — and the Berlin Philharmonic is no stranger to innovation. Under the direction of the esteemed conductor Herbert von Karajan, they produced the first classical recording on CD in 1980.
The hard work of the Berlin Philharmonic is paying off with the Digital Concert Hall. As of this year, 800,000 people have registered as users to watch the free content — interviews and educational concerts — and buy tickets, and 30,000 of have subscribed to the full streaming package.
It’s no surprise that people are eager to sign up for the service. Digital Concert Hall has a large selection of high quality performances on offer. The live streams and the archived concerts can be viewed on TV, desktop, tablet and smartphone devices so that you can watch the Berlin Philharmonic wherever the compulsion strikes you.
The level of content for the avid music fan is really impressive. A programme guide accompanies each concert, providing historical context and contemporary commentary. Extended interviews discussing the works are also made available, giving the audience keen insights into the work of the conductor, the musicians and their insights into the music.
Each concert is easily searchable with chapters within each concert — so if you’re wanting a bit of Berlioz, but don’t really fancy listening to Britten, you can skip ahead. You can also choose your quality setting; you can set the video quality up to the very highest available, or you can choose something a little more modest if you want to preserve your data.
Each concert on the Digital Concert Hall is easily navigated and full of rich additional content lik...
Each concert on the Digital Concert Hall is easily navigated and full of rich additional content like program guides and interview commentary.
Monika Ritterhaus/ Berlin Phil Media
Both live streams of the performances by the Berlin Philharmonic and an archive of past performances are accessible to subscribers. The immense collection of archived performances includes some incredible concerts conducted by Herbert von Karajan, along with the energized physicality of the orchestra’s current conductor Simon Rattle.
Rattle’s shaking silver hair is writ large all over the newer Digital Concert Hall performances — he has been a big supporter of the orchestra’s streaming platform since it launched back in 2008. Speaking on the Digital Concert Hall back in 2009, Rattle said he felt that the shift towards digital was, “completely obvious that this was going to be the future… People are just expecting this to be there, like water.”
Orchestras the world over have to evolve to provide what a changing audience expects. The world is changed since Beethoven sat at his piano or Bartók raked his baton through the air. The Berlin Philharmonic is offering fans of classical music a way to connect with some of the finest performances online, and hopefully encouraging the audience to branch out and dive into the living world of music with even more gusto.
Time will tell if this quality and quantity of streaming could catch on with other internationally revered orchestras. Captivating and keeping a digitally-savvy audience may require bold moves from orchestras in the years to come, and setting up a subscription-based digital concert platform could be just the thing to maintain a healthy, growing audience.
More about Classical music, Classical, berlin philharmonic, Berlin, philharmonie
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