“Music is for everybody,” said Sir Simon Rattle in an interview. As chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, spreading this message was one of his most important goals. The Open Day on 21 May 2018 fell in the final weeks of Sir Simon’s tenure. In addition to sadness over his farewell, there was also a feeling of joy at this festival that music really is there for everyone: on the day, visitors could experience a wide range of events all over the Scharoun building and in the garden of the Philharmonie, from orchestral rehearsals and education projects and workshops to performances by the Berliner Philharmoniker and their chamber music ensembles. A special highlight was the performance of the BE PHIL Orchestra, which was founded especially for the occasion and which performed Johannes Brahms’s First Symphony under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.
Since the beginning of the year, a jury of 12 Philharmonikers viewed almost 2,000 applications from all over the world and ultimately put together an orchestra with 101 members. In addition to a few music students, all were amateur musicians who combine their enthusiasm for making music with careers as lawyers, dentists, police officers, university lecturers and engineers. The rehearsals were conducted by Michael Hasel and Stanley Dodds, two members of the Philharmoniker. The fact that, in Dodd’s words, “music is the only language that can unite people from all over the world” was demonstrated by the origin of the keen participants: they came from all continents, from the USA, China, Brazil, Holland, Norway and Canada. In Brahms’s First Symphony, one of the most technically and musically demanding works of the orchestral repertoire, they showed under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle a high level of professionalism and, above all, an incomparable joy of playing. And true to the title “BE PHIL!”, they could feel like the Berliner Philharmoniker for a day.