After a four-year building programme that has gone entirely according to plan, Berlin’s new Pierre Boulez Hall will open with a gala concert under the direction of Daniel Barenboim. As honorary guest, German President Joachim Gauck is going to attend the opening concert on 4 March. The newly formed Boulez Ensemble will present works by Boulez, Schubert, Mozart, Jörg Widmann and Alban Berg.
The Pierre Boulez Hall has been designed by American architect Frank Gehry and is a part of the Barenboim–Said Academy. Summoned into existence by Daniel Barenboim, the Academy began its teaching programme in the autumn of 2016. Located at the cultural heart of Berlin, the new concert hall has seating for 700 and offers a range of possibilities with its elliptical shape and flexible stage design. The hall’s acoustics are the responsibility of the Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, who is well known for his expertise in this field. Both Frank Gehry and Yasuhisa Toyota have generously donated their services to the Barenboim–Said Academy and renounced any fee for their work.
The opening concert’s programme is a reflection of Pierre Boulez’s inexhaustible musical inquisitiveness. The French composer, conductor and visionary, who died in January 2016, was for many years one of Daniel Barenboim’s closest artistic colleagues. “Pierre Boulez was not just a great composer and conductor,” recalls Barenboim, “he also revolutionized music from the ground upwards. We are dedicating this chamber music room to the spirit of a musical visionary and looking forward to the forthcoming concerts and encounters.”
Under the heading of “Music for the Thinking Ear” the programme for the opening season comprises more than sixty concerts featuring chamber music from the Classical and Romantic periods as well as modern classics from the early 20th century, contemporary compositions, world premieres, music from the Middle East and jazz.
The Boulez Ensemble The flexibility and interdisciplinary versatility that are central to the philosophy of the Pierre Boulez Hall are reflected in the newly formed Boulez Ensemble, which is made up of musicians from the Berlin Staatskapelle and from Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as well as students and teachers from the Barenboim–Said Academy and international guests. In the course of its opening season between now and July the Ensemble will give a whole series of concerts featuring, among others, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, François-Xavier Roth, Jörg Widmann and Anna Prohaska. A new album in memory of Pierre Boulez To mark the opening of the Pierre Boulez Hall, Deutsche Grammophon is releasing a recording dedicated to Boulez. Hommage à Boulez contains key works by the French composer, including Le marteau sans Maître conducted by the composer and Dérive 2 recorded live by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the 2012 BBC Proms. This double album is available on iTunes and from the usual market outlets from 3 March 2017.
The Barenboim-Said Akademie (BSA) was created in the spirit of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, established in 1999 by Daniel Barenboim and the late American-Palestinian literary scholar Edward W. Said to bring together as equals young Arab and Israeli musicians. In 2012, Barenboim founded the BSA to train young musicians from the Middle East, with a curriculum rooted in both music and the humanities. Students are invited to study on scholarship in a four-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree. The BSA welcomed its first class of 37 students in fall 2016, and once at capacity, up to 90 students will be enrolled at a time.
The Pierre Boulez Saal is a new concert hall in the heart of Berlin, Project Overview purpose-built for the BSA. The room is designed to provide an exceptionally flexible rehearsal space for students and faculty and to accommodate an ongoing schedule of student performances, chamber music concerts, lectures, conferences and academic events.
The design for the hall emerged out of a close collaboration among Daniel Barenboim, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry and acclaimed acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota. Gehry has generously donated his services to the project. The hall is named for composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), a longtime friend of both Barenboim and Gehry, in tribute to his relentless dedication to learning and his insatiable curiosity.
Location Französische Straße, between the Staatsoper Unter den Linden and the Federal Foreign Office Building. The Pierre Boulez Saal has been created in a portion of the Staatsoper’s former storage building (the Magazin), constructed in 1952-55 and designed by Richard Paulick. It stands in the Mitte district, the culturally vibrant and historic center of Berlin, in close proximity to Humboldt University and Museumsinsel (Museum Island).