The School Orchestra Extravaganzas of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s education programme are always a big event, and this year’s meeting in February was no different. Six Berlin school orchestras had rehearsed excerpts from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites for the big day under the guidance of members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the conductor of the public performance in the Philharmonie was none other than Sir Simon Rattle.
After each orchestra had been presented to the audience under the direction of their music teacher, they all came together on the stage for the big finale Peer Gynt: a record-breaking orchestra of over 200 musicians. This was when things got really exciting: to see and hear how this huge ensemble of students of all ages who had never played together grow more and more together. Of course, this was also thanks to the Philharmoniker’s chief conductor who not only worked on their precision but also their expression (“Don’t let it sound too much like God Save the Queen!”). But this morning in the Philharmonie was also a new experience for Simon Rattle: As he admitted, he had never conducted the Peer Gynt music before.