Conductor Gilbert fights 'Bolero effect' - in a car factory

Wed May 15, 2013 7:38am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - A concert in a car factory using parts of a luxury sedan as percussion instruments is one thing, but a Volkswagen suspended above the New York Philharmonic creates another level of musical drama entirely.

The NYPO under its first native New York music director, Alan Gilbert, showed during two concerts this week at the Dresden Music Festival in central Germany why the 46-year-old conductor has a reputation for brushing off the cobwebs at one of America's most distinguished orchestras.

"Whatever you do, you have to do it with conviction and you actually have to believe in it," Gilbert told Reuters in an interview after a super-charged rehearsal of Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg's "Kraft".

The piece was performed in concert on Tuesday night inside Volkswagen's stunning glass-fronted assembly plant for its Phaeton sedan in a leafy area of the city.

Lindberg himself hammered away on assorted car parts, including coil springs, part of a spare wheel assembly and a cylinder used in the Phaeton's air suspension.

The whole thing was made possible courtesy of the car company in what regional Volkswagen CEO Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler called a "special crazy idea".

New York Philharmonic horn, wind, percussion and string players were kept busy rotating to different places and levels in the performance area for a piece Lindberg said is a celebration of sound and space.

Gilbert's podium was backed by part of a front grill assembly for the Phaeton, while an unfinished 500 kg car body lit from the inside hung suspended over the orchestra.   Continued...

Alan Gilbert (L), chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and Finnish composer and pianist Magnus Lindberg acknowledge the final applause of the audience after the performance of the composition 'Kraft' (Power), inside the Glaeserne Manufaktur (transparent factory) where Germany's car maker Volkswagen AG assemble the luxury model Phaeton, in Dresden May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch