Among the musicians – the after movie

Right next to the violins, in between the clarinets and in front of the timpani – the audience attending the concert on Thursday, 9 February was part of a very special orchestral arrangement. The musicians were seated not onstage, but on the house floor of the Main Hall, forming a large circle around conductor Iván Fischer, with the audience interspersed among them.

An intimate experience

With the musicians spread out at such distances from one another, it was a tricky performance to pull off. The overall balance, too, could be surprising depending on where individual audience members happened to be sitting. In the midst of the violas, for instance, the main thing you could hear was their accompaniment. But this special arrangement of the players added something truly unique to the whole experience, allowing listeners to hear the music from the inside. After all, ‘that’s how we musicians always hear it’, said Iván Fischer. The orchestra members also found it to be a very intimate experience playing at such close proximity to the concertgoers. Afterwards, there were lively discussions between the musicians and their neighbours.

Casting vote

The programme featured short works by all the composers whose names are immortalised on the cartouches (or name plaques) adorning the balconies in the hall. Maestro Fischer gave brief introductions to each of them from his spot at the centre of the circle. When time constraints meant a choice had to be made between Bruckner, Mahler or Franck, he asked the audience to vote. But the maestro’s benevolent casting vote settled the matter, and music by César Franck ensued.

It was a fascinating evening for musicians and audience members alike; two of the many discoveries made as a result of the performance were that Alphons Diepenbrock’s music deserves greater attention and that experiencing a concert side by side is certainly worth repeating!

Iván Fischer speaks from amidst the musicians and audience members (photo: Milagro Elstak).

Recognize the 'cartouche composers'

cartouche quiz

The Major and Minor Composers Quiz