Back in the 1983/1984 season, when Götz Friedrich and the board of the Deutsche Oper Berlin orchestra had the idea of training young prospective members of the orchestra in an academy, the practice of using an operatic orchestra to foster talent was quite new.
Young musicians under the age of 26 who are currently receiving college training that is of high quality but usually geared to the soloist’s repertoire are given the chance, in the Deutsche Oper Berlin orchestra, to learn the key works of the opera’s repertoire and experience the daily life of a professional at first hand. In one-to-one instruction and in group orchestra work they are monitored and assisted by tutors, mostly by the orchestra concertmasters and principals. The trainees are able to take part in rehearsals, concerts and opera performances if they have become fully familiar with the works with their tutors beforehand.
Much attention is also paid to the nurturing of chamber music, which is why Academy trainees are given their own chamber concert slot in the chamber music schedule within any given season’s programme. Each new year sees gifted young students from German music colleges auditioning for a place in the Orchestra Academy of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Only a few are accepted.
Training usually last a year and is partly funded by a grant. An important element of the programme is devoted to preparing trainees for the process of auditioning for a future place on an orchestra. For this reason, since the 2011/12 season the Orchestra Academy of the Deutsche Oper Berlin has also been offering special audition coaching and mock auditions.
And the young trainees are not the only people to benefit from this extraordinary tutoring; the Orchestra itself benefits. This is because beyond a level of instrumental proficiency and a high degree of musicality the budding professionals must also show that they have an idea of sound and tonality that gels with this orchestra and justifies their induction into it. This allows gifted individuals to be developed at the Academy into professionals who can perpetuate the tonal tradition of the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Around a fifth of current orchestra members are former trainees at the Orchestra Academy.
70% of orchestras in Germany are operatic orchestras. This makes the Orchestra Academy of the Deutsche Oper Berlin a successful model for various types of academy functioning as feeders for operatic orchestras.
In the 2017/2018 season the Deutsche Oper Berlin welcomed the following trainees to the Orchestra Academy: Diego Vassallo, Frans van Schoonhoven, Naoki Yamaguchi, André Robles Field, Lorenz Swyngedouw (Violin), Sohee Ro, Uhjin Choi (Viola), Weimu Gao, Josua Petersen (Violoncello), Kevin Zenteno (Double bass), Lisa-Marie Madreiter (Clarinet), Isabella Homann (Bassoon), Maximilan Schellenberger (Horn), Alexander Flamm (Trumpet), Silvia Podrecca (Harp).
Applicants to the Orchestra Academy must be under 26 years of age. Trainees must attend 10 times per month. The monthly allowance is currently set at € 856.00. Auditions for the Academy normally take place in May and June. Applications should be made in writing to: Stiftung Oper in Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin / Orchesterdirektion, Postfach 100280, 10562 Berlin. For information on the Academy please contact: Kaja Beringer (Orchestra Board): firstname.lastname@example.org