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Transmission: Tuesday, 17th June 2008

A Trip To Asia: On The Road With The Berlin Philharmonic

A film following Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra musicians on their debut tour as they compete to impress conductor Simon Rattle.

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A Trip To Asia: On The Road With The Berlin Philharmonic  

Episode Guide: A Trip To Asia

Episode Guide: A Trip To Asia

Posted: Tuesday, 17th June 2008

The musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic and their conductor Sir Simon Rattle set off on a concert tour of Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo - taking with them the music of Thomas Ades Asyla, Beethoven's Eroica and Richard Strauss' A Hero's Life. 126 musicians, all masters of their craft, each with their own unique personalities, must come together to channel their individual skills and harness their virtuosity - on a single mission of creating the Orchestra's distinctive sound.

The Berlin Philharmonic is a closed society that observes its own laws and traditions, in the words of one of its musicians, "an island, a democratic microcosm - almost without precedent in the music world - whose social structure and cohesion is not only founded on a common love for music, but also informed by competition, compulsion and the pressure to perform to a high pitch of excellence; pressures that are present, in a similar form, in any group".

The film portrays the stressful routine that is the life of the Orchestra on tour - monotonous rehearsals, master classes, brief escapes into the cities on the tour, the solitude of the practice room, the cold displacement of a home in hotel rooms, press conferences, the build-up to a concert, the pay-off performances themselves before discriminating, highly cultured, and demanding audiences. With remarkable frankness, the Orchestra players offer their reflections on life with the Berlin Philharmonic, on their doubts and regrets of a life on the road, the pressure to perform, on tradition and innovation, friendship and competition, the loss of technique with getting older, on life before and after the Orchestra, and on the overwhelming sensation that keeps them coming back for more.

A Trip To Asia: On The Road With The Berlin Philharmonic , BBC One, 17th June 2008, 10.35pm.

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