Audience members will sit inside the orchestra when Ivan Fischer conducts Concertgebouw

Audience members will sit inside the orchestra when Ivan Fischer conducts Concertgebouw


norman lebrecht

February 01, 2023

From the press release:
On 9, 10 and 12 February, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will play three very special concerts with honorary guest conductor Iván Fischer. For the concert on 9 February, the orchestra musicians will sit in the centre of the Main Hall, grouped around the conductor, with some of the audience interspersed among them. The rest of the audience will sit around the orchestra. On 10 and 12 February the orchestra will play on stage as usual.

The Main Hall as time machine
The programme for all three concerts is intimately connected with the history of The Concertgebouw and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. It includes a short work by each of the seventeen composers whose names are on the cartouches (name plates) lining the balcony in the Main Hall (another 29 names are on the walls above them). Since most of these names were added in the 1920s, the programme very much represents the Zeitgeist of a hundred years ago. As conductor Iván Fischer puts it, ‘It’s a time machine’. The pieces on the programme will be played in the order their composers’ names appear on the balconies, from right to left – from Dvořák to Stravinsky. Soprano Anna Prohaska will be the soloist in songs by Richard Strauss, Alphons Diepenbrock, Max Reger and Maurice Ravel.

Some of these seventeen composers are still famous today. A movement from Anton Bruckner’s ‘Symphony No. 0’ in D Minor is on the programme, as well as Gustav Mahler­’s Blumine, which was originally a symphony movement. Other composers, such as Cornelis Dopper, Julius Röntgen and Bernard Zweers, are less familiar.


  • RW2013 says:

    He used to do that in Berlin.
    Good idea with the 17 composers.

  • I says:

    Always expect something interesting besides the great music from a Fischer concert

  • Jobim75 says:

    That’s a good initiative, it’s a happening and as such will happen once on the three scheduled concerts. I wish I was among the orchestra for an immersive experience…

  • pjl says:

    he did the same in Berlin: nothing new

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Not sure this is such a good idea. Sitting in the middle of an orchestra is not the best place to hear it. If you’re sitting with the cellos, that’s what you’re going to hear. I’d also be interested to know how the players feel about being surrounded by muggles.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      I’ve had the opportunity to sit amid the musicians a few times — not in Berlin or Amsterdam! — and greatly enjoyed sitting amongst the violas. True, the balance isn’t what one wants to hear, but it’s a fascinating experience, hearing the music from inside the organism.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      I agree with you totally, Chris.
      And what’s going to happen when an audience member (perhaps an elderly one) not accustomed to such things hears his/her first up-close fortissimo cymbal crash?

    • Craig says:

      I think it’s a fantastic idea. The ultimate surround sound. I’ve missed sitting in the orchestra for many years. Purchasing season tickets is nice, but it’s not the same.

      As a horn player, I’ve been shoved into all kinds of locations — each one different. Currently I’m surrounded by basses, cellos, and violas. No, you don’t get the same balance, but the feeling and hearing from the “inside out” is something you can’t experience any other way. I love the long rests when I can just close my eyes and soak in every note.

      If this energizes people, what’s the harm? I don’t see a downside really. I wouldn’t mind having an enthusiastic listener right by me at all.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    important to know that the RCO has the abitud to record the albums not on the stage but just below the stage, where during the concerts there are the first ranks.

  • Colin says:

    The equivalent of Theatre-in-the-round!

  • Mystic Chord says:

    What a wonderful idea, wish I was there.

    Let’s try this in London please …

  • Petros Linardos says:

    We need more people like Ivan Fischer: he thinks outside the box. His idea of innovation and experimentation is not the tired and generally failed approach of watering down classical music.

    Personally I would love to sit between the musicians, as a one off or occasional entertainment. It must be fun, and might yield new insights, which we would cherish when going back to our traditional seating arrangement.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I have sat right next to the first violins in the Musikverein many times and I can tell you it’s VERY loud. Just a warning for those who have hearing issues.

      This segues nicely into another topic; the dormant issue of musicians’ deafness over time. This is an industrial/work issue which is a sleeping time bomb.

  • Carl says:

    Why can’t more conductors be as imaginative as Fischer when developing programs? I don’t know how this will play out in practice but it certainly sounds a lot more interesting than an overture-concerto-symphony affair.

  • MacroV says:

    It’s kind of cool. True, in the middle of the orchestra you don’t hear the full thing in balance, but you hear what the players in the orchestra hear, which is also useful to know.

    And as I get older, I find it increasingly hard to justify making the effort to go out to the hall from my suburban home (to the Kennedy Center or Strathmore) even to hear two excellent orchestras. You need to offer something that makes “being there” essential.

  • Captain Obvious says:

    Nice to way to spread contagious viruses, one way or the other.

  • Geoffrey T Leather says:

    I have been fortunate enough to have attended concerts in the major halls in Vienna, Berlin, Prague and the Concertgebouw. This hall in my ear has the best acoustics without being too bright. Bye putting the musicians in this area of the hall should prove how good this hall is. There are many new ones that are very good. Wish I could go. Fisher is now right at the top with the others. Hope this starts a new trend.

  • Scott Colebank says:

    Dopper wrote some interesting symphonies; they have been recorded for Chandos and are worth listening to.

  • psq says:

    There are comments already re he has done it in Berlin. Yes, I was there, don’t remember exactly what was played, either Rites of Spring or Firebird. I positioned myself next to the clarinettist. The musicians were dispersed too, e.g., the first violins and other string groups didn’t sit together, ditto other wind groups etc. The musicians were asked for their comments afterwards. The first thing they all said was they had to work harder to hear what their fellow musicians were playing because they were further apart as the audience was dispersed among them- playing in an orchestra means listening to the rest of the orchestra all the time.


    i” m living at the Cornelis Dopperkade, conductor of the CGebouwOrkest. He was a composer as well, reason that Ivan will play a piece by CDopper. I’ve got tickets for the 2nd performance, players at the stage and w’re ion the Hall. I’m looking forward to this once in a lifetime experience.