Tuesday 31 March, 2020

Maestros, politicians flock to grand Elbphilharmonie opening

By Stephanie Lettgen and Andrew McCathie in Hamburg, dpa
Published: 12 January 2017 Thursday, 04:33  AM

Maestros, politicians flock to grand Elbphilharmonie opening

View of the concert hall. Image: POOL / AFP / Christian Charisius

The new jewel on Germany`s cultural landscape, Hamburg`s glistening, harbour-side Elbphilharmonie concert hall, opens its doors on Wednesday for a star-studded launch, marking the end of a 10-year construction period dogged by delays and rising  costs.

An evening concert by the NDR broadcaster`s Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under chief conductor Thomas Hengelbrock, with a programme spanning works from the Renaissance to the contemporary, marks the opening of the venue.

"The Elbphilharmonie ... is an invitation to the world to come to Hamburg, to see this great building and to enjoy the music," Hamburg`s Mayor Olaf Scholz told a press conference on Wednesday marking the building`s official launch.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck top the list of 2,100 guests expected to attend the event, which takes place under heavy security.

Safety measures have been stepped up at public events across Germany in the wake of a December terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

The Elbphilharmonie has also attracted public protest in its long and scandal-ridden road to completion. However, police spokesman Timo Zill said no demonstration had been registered for opening day.

The steel-and-glass construction came in at a final cost of 789 million euros (828 million dollars).

Planning for the Elbphilharmonie began almost 10 years ago when the authorities had expected it would cost a total of 77 million euros and be finished in 2010 with Hamburg authorities hoping it will become a new symbol for the city.

"We wanted to do something that might perhaps become ... something like the Tower in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Opera House in Sydney," former Hamburg mayor Ole von Beust told German radio.