Shortly before the end it warms up a little. Opera singer Christian Geyerheer and Bavarian Arts Minister Markus Blum (CSU) is accusing the state government of delaying a project for a new concert hall in Werksviertel due to party tactical considerations in the year before the state elections. “We’re eliminating high culture and saving money, which goes well with a lot of people,” he says, summarizing his view on the political motives for skeptical of the project. Hence Bloom accuses him of “refusing to think”, which elicits boos or boos from the public. In a new age, Bloom said, one cannot “stubbornly and stupidly” stick to old plans. However, he does not want to commit himself to the fact that the house will not come as planned.
For an hour and a half on Monday evening, the guests discussed whether Munich needed a new concert hall – and if so, what kind of hall. Next to Blume and others on the podium in the high-rise SZ: Mayor of Munich II Catherine Habenschaden (Greenz), Director of the Residenztheater, Andreas Beck, and Ulrich Wilhelm, former director of Bavarian Radio and board member of the new Munich Foundation Concert Hall. One idea ran like a red thread through the evening: the question of what the “pause for thought” demanded by Prime Minister Marcus Soder (CSU) actually means. And should it be taken literally, that is, in an open intellectual way, or is it a disguised rejection in other words?
Wilhelm demanded that if the burial of the project was hidden behind it, the state government should speak clearly – and not “play” with those who deal with it for so long. However, Minister Bloom did not want to explode to make a clear statement. Instead, he pointed to a long list of other necessary investments. Given the estimated costs of up to 1 billion euros, the politicians are in the “most difficult weigh-ins”.
A new concert hall in Munich has been debated for nearly two decades. Then-Prime Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) committed himself to the project in 2009. At the end of 2015, under his leadership, the state government decided on the Werksviertel successor to the Ostbahnhof as the site. A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Söder mainly questioned the project in an interview with SZ.
Sir Simon Rattle
What will happen to Munich Konzerthaus?
Wilhelm said that the move came as a great surprise to him, and above all the sudden change of situation, “although there was no new situation”. Bloom defended the impulse to reconsider the project. He referred to “two global crises”, first the Corona pandemic, and now the war of aggression in Ukraine, with “consequences that no one can quantify.” Therefore the ‘stop’ is urgently required, and it is necessary to ‘check whether we have the financial strength to withstand it’. In addition, a new situation arose with the new Isar Philharmonic Hall. Mayor Habenschaden said the city has done its part in planning this temporary concert hall and renovating the Gasteig. She also admitted that the situation is really different now. In her view, however, the debate over whether a new concert hall is needed can be “managed very openly”. The first threads of conversation were linked with the state government.
Sir Simon Rattle, who will take over as conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the 2023/24 season, had previously sent a video statement that was recorded on stage. He may be forgiven for being “typically British nuisance and positive”. But it might be easier for an outsider to see how exciting the prospects are: Werksviertel is “up and coming, vibrant and energetic,” and there really is all sorts of artistic activity there.
The Isarphilharmonie shows that a good concert hall can be built at a much lower cost
“It is a very different Munich from what the outside world knows,” Rattle said. Concert hall is not just a hall, but a philosophy. It is mainly about cultural mediation: “We have a dream that our music will reach all children in Bavaria and change their lives.” The Bavarian Radio Philharmonic is only home to creative musicians who are bursting with ideas on how to change and enrich Munich’s musical life. “The irony is that it is the only great orchestra that does not have a home base to make this happen.”
For artistic director Andreas Beck, the main question was what a concert hall might look like – the Isarphilharmonie shows that there is another way, that is, a good concert hall can also be built at a much cheaper price. He called for a general and in-depth discussion on how Munich will develop as a cultural location in the coming years. The city must become more attractive to young people, and let us not forget: artists must also be able to afford the city.
Christian Gehrer drew an analogy to the Munich museum scene. Few places in the world can be compared to it, and one might once wonder whether the Pinakothek der Moderne or the Brandhorst Museum still needed it. It’s there now and you should be proud of it. “The same goes for the concert hall,” he predicted. Arts cannot be organized according to needs. “The arts have always lived to be productive without being asked.”