The world of the Berliner Philharmoniker: 128 musicians, all masters of their craft who, in the service of a common purpose, combine their individual virtuosity to form the orchestra’s sound. What are the human and artistic secrets that make this possible? How do they reconcile the contradictions of ego and community? Director Thomas Grube explores these questions in his film Trip to Asia.
In the almost 130 years of its existence, the Berliner Philharmoniker have never given such deep insight into life within the orchestra. At first sight, Trip to Asia appears to be a documentary about a tour by the orchestra and its chief conductorm Sir Simon Rattle to Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. Amidst the vibrant cities of Asia, in the encounter between Western tradition and Asian philosophy, Asian and European modernism, the various motivations and temperaments which each of these distinct personalities bring to the orchestra can be seen during a several week-long journey with all its feelings of curiosity, passion and exhaustion. With remarkable candour and reflection, the musicians and their conductor tell of their life, of their doubts and the pressures of performance, of tradition and change, friendship and competition, of the gruelling trial period as a new member of the orchestra to the sadness of leaving - and about the longing for perfect musical fulfilment.