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Music

Key to the Elbphilharmonie's concert hall turned over to Hamburg

It was 10 times more expensive than originally planned - and should have been completed seven years ago. Finally, Hamburg now takes over the Elbphilharmonie. It is expected to be one of the world's 10 best concert halls.

The construction company Hochtief turned the key to the famous - some would say infamous - hall over to the city of Hamburg on Thursday (30.06.2016). The entire complex with luxury hotel and condominiums will undergo final inspection on October 31, and the opening concerts, scheduled for January 11 and 12, 2017, are already sold out.

"We're finally on the home stretch," said the facility's general director Christoph Lieben-Seutter on Thursday. With final touches to the building still being made in the coming weeks, the NDR (North German Broadcasting) Elbphilharmonie Orchestra will begin rehearsals there in late summer under the direction of its principal conductor Thomas Hengelbrock. "Bit by bit, the orchestra will conquer the hall," said Tom R. Schulz, spokesman of event organizer HamburgMusik.

Expectations are running high for the construction, whose initial estimated cost of 77 million euros ($85 million) is dwarfed by de-facto outlays of 789 million euros ($874 million). The cost explosion and multiple delays in the finishing date have made the project synonymous for building scandals in Germany.

Concert hall of the Elbphilharmonie, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Heimken

The unique concert hall is set to hold its first concerts in January 2017

With its 2,150 seats, the concert hall is projected to be one of the 10 best in the world. Similar to the "Philharmonie" in Berlin and the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, it is constructed on a "wine-terrace" concept, with sharply ascending rows of seats arranged as in an amphitheater.

Nearly every detail in the hall is said to be unique, from the walls covered with 10,000 precision-cut gypsum fibreboards - called the "white skin" - to the audacious structure itself, designed by architect Jacques Herzog. Seemingly hovering in the air and supported by 362 steel springs, it is detached from the remainder of the harbor structure in order to seal off the inner acoustic. Responsible for this is Yasuhisa Toyota, considered one of the world's best acoustical engineers.

rf/eg (dpa, abendblatt)

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