27: Mittendrin – At the Heart of the Orchestra

Berlin, June 2015 – Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Iván Fischer


I have spent much of my life sitting in orchestras and well understand that a concert sounds very different from the ‘inside’ than it does from the ‘outside’ as the audience hears it. But why not let the audience discover what music sounds like it for us musicians on the ‘inside’? All kudos to Maestro Iván Fischer and his Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin for this great idea – to sit ‘Mittendrin’, meaning ‘right in the middle’, of the orchestra during a concert.

It was my first taste of Mittendrin and we had a great day filming in the beautiful Konzerthaus in Berlin as the orchestra rehearsed and then performed Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’. My seat for the concert was next to a desk of first violins which gave me a very different perspective on the piece and was a whole new acoustic journey. It was also wonderful to watch the audience’s very visible reaction as they sat among the musicians and it was good to see that the audience was made up of all ages.

But, as my wonderful cameraman Henning said during the filming of this episode, the Mittendrin concept is easy to convey visually but it’s very difficult to capture the true audio experience. For that, you really have to be there to hear with your own ears. Our editor Kevin, who had not been present at the shoot, was so impressed at what he saw in the editing studio that he has booked tickets for his family for the next Mittendrin concert. What a great result! I really do think this is a fantastic concept and hope you have the chance to go try it for yourselves. Let us know if so!

Making-Of Gallery


  • Ivan Fischer Horn Challenge extended
  • Iván Fischer and Accoustics
  • Mark Phillips

    What a great episode and a great idea to put the audience in the middle of the orchestra. As the maestro mentioned, things sound different out in the concert hall and even more different as people usually hear music – electronically reproduced over speakers. It must be an amazing experience for the audience! As an amateur musician I always love when I can hear orchestras in concert halls where you can sit over them. The Konzerthaus in Berlin is a great example – I bought the most expensive ticket in my life to hear the Vienna Phil play there many years ago. Symphony Hall in Chicago (as well as the 2 halls nearest me, the Kennedy Center and Strathmore Center in N. Bethesda MD), both have chorus lofts which are used as seating when possible. I always sit there when I can.

    Great ideas to connect an orchestra with its audience – a vital challenge today.

    • http://sarah-willis.com/ Sarah Willis

      Thanks Mark, so glad you enjoyed the programme and great you can experience “mittendrin” near you too!