Does your company have its own orchestra?

AP have published an interesting survey of companies – mostly in Germany, some in Japan and South Korea – that give employees time to play in the firm’s orchestra.

Companies with employee orchestras include engineering firm Siemens, maker of trains and medical scanners; carmakers Daimler, BMW and Ford; auto components and electronics maker Robert Bosch GmbH; airline Lufthansa, and chemical firm BASF.

At a recent rehearsal, Weitkamp and the SAP musicians filled the cavernous, 2,300-seat Rosengarten auditorium in the southwestern German town of Mannheim with rich, warm string sound, practicing first a bouncy pop mix of Mozart’s Prague Symphony and Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.” Then the brass blared out the stirring opening notes of John Williams’ theme music for the Olympics, as the orchestra prepared to play at a graduation ceremony for the local college.

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  • Until very recently in Austria, every coal mine, oil company, the railway and public transport companies as well as the police forces had orchestras or at least wind orchestras who often played exceedingly well. What they had in common was that they were all state owned, and the state felt it had the money for this luxury. Now that a lot of the aforementioned are closed or privatised, these activities have been cut back a lot. Nice to hear that some big companies have time and money for music.

  • Samsung in Seoul , S Korea too , who have a concert hall within their HQ building that would embarrass any in this country’s capital city…

    • Halls within a company’s HQ also include the Petronas Dewan Concert Hall in Kuala Lumpur with superb acoustics by Kirkegaard. And you can more or less add Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Japan’s finest concert hall financed by the drinks giant Suntory. And looking way back, I suppose you can add another excellent concert venue largely paid for as a result of alcohol profits, Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. Neither of the latter is in their company’s HQs, but examplea of what corporate funding can achieve.

  • Vittorio Giannini wrote his IBM Symphony in 1937. I don’t know if they had an in-house orchestra at that time, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Our orchestra actually had a staff orchestra (drawn from the admin staff) for a while – only about 18 players but all sections represented. The chorus manager conducted, the chief exec was on 2nd violin, his PA was on bass, and we played Mozart and Mendelssohn overtures in lunch hours on days when the professional musicians weren’t in the building. One day we allowed a member of the actual orchestra to join us on cello, and he kept rushing and throwing everyone out.

  • Nortel Networks had a “Tower of Power”-style band composed of executives called “The Top Brass”.

    It would perform for company functions and was widely hated by the employees.

    Nortel is now defunct.

  • German chemical company Bayer has employee philharmonic orchestras, one in Krefeld https://www.bayer-symphoniker.de/ and the main one (with a professional MD) in Leverkusen http://www.bayer-philharmoniker.de/
    There are also employee wind orchestras in Leverkusen and Wuppertal and a mandoline band in Leverkusen.
    Furthermore Bayer is sponsoring an annual cycle of piano concertos in Leverkusen and Wuppertal with world-famous artists performing (e.g. Martin Stadtfeld, Olga Scheps in 2018).

    • Philips has/maintains in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) a high caliber amateur orchestra. I recently sung in one of the choirs that performed with them Mahler’s Eight symphony.

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