讀者或會記得，我曾於 2018 年 7 月，寫過一篇關於西蒙．歷圖爵士，作為柏林愛樂樂團首席指揮，卸任前的最後一場音樂會。時光飛逝 —— 柏林愛樂沒有首席指揮的演出季節，已經過去了，而振奮人心的俄羅斯指揮家佩特連科，將於 2019 年 8 月正式上任，成為第 12 任首席指揮。
柏林愛樂樂團於 1882 年成立，至今只委任過 11 名首席指揮。新任首席指揮的就職演出，一直以來都是古典音樂界的盛事，並常吸引全球關注和廣泛媒體報道。音樂會將於 2019 年 8 月 23 日舉行，演奏樂曲將會是伯格的「露露」組曲，以及曠世鉅作「貝多芬第 9 號交響曲」。
雖然音樂會 8 月才演出，但門票已於 5 月 26 日開售。那天所發生的事情超出我想像，並證明了這場演出，對柏林大眾和古典音樂愛好者有多麼重要。
當天，柏林愛樂廳於早上 11 點開始售票，而網上和電話售票卻在 3 個小時後才開始。我於早上 10 點 45 分到達愛樂廳，以為我會是第 1 個到達的人，並且會有很充足的時間。但是我太錯、太天真了。放眼望去，售票處已經有至少 500 個人在排隊，看不見龍尾。很多人也帶了凳仔，有的在吃早餐，有的坐在地上打牌過時間。簡而言之，看來大部分的人，都在這裡排了一段時間。
在香港，最先售空的是最便宜的門票，但在柏林，大眾都爭搶最高價的座位（票價高於 200 歐元），因為這能顯示他們的財富和社會地位。但作為柏林愛樂廳的常客，我可以保證最昂貴的座位，不一定能提供最好的音響品質和視線角度。
那天我並沒有排隊，因為我意識到，排到售票櫃檯需要至少 4 個小時。因此我只逗留 1 個小時便回家，嘗試於下午 2 點到網上購票。
下午 1 點半，我坐在電腦前反覆更新瀏覽器，變得愈來愈緊張，心跳不斷加速。
下午 2 點正，我成功進入購票站，發現只剩下 200 張門票，即刻按下第 1 個座位，網頁轉至結帳頁面。付 93 歐元後，收到確認信，我才在那天第一次深吸口氣，感到放鬆。後來發現，那 200 張門票，在 38 秒內就已經售罄。
唉，現在回想起來，其實我應該接受柏林愛樂朋友的好意。我絕對樂意欠他們 100 個人情，來換取這場演出的門票！
我很期待在這場盛大的音樂會後與讀者們分享經歷。我絕對能保證，就算有許多人在網上以 1,000 歐元收購門票，我也不會受誘惑而放棄出席這場音樂會的機會！
Fighting for a Berlin Philharmonic’s Ticket
Readers may recall that, back in July 2018, I wrote an article on Sir Simon Rattle’s farewell concert with the Berlin Philharmonic as their Chief Conductor. Time flies – a concert season, where the orchestra has had no Chief Conductor, has passed already, and the exciting Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko will formally begin his tenure as the Berlin Philharmonic’s next Chief Conductor in August 2019.
The Berlin Philharmonic was founded in 1882 and it has only had eleven chief conductors since then. The occasion where their new Chief Conductor conducts his inaugural concert has always been a fundamental event in the classical music world and attracted worldwide attention and media coverage. Petrenko’s inaugural concert will take place on August 23, 2019, and will open with Alban Berg’s Lulu Suite, followed by arguably the most well-known and greatest work of all time: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Although this concert is weeks away, ticket sales began on May 26. What happened that day was beyond anything I have ever experienced and was testament to the importance of this concert to the Berlin public, as well as the classical music aficionados.
My friends within the Berlin Philharmonic told me some months ago that they would be happy to get me a ticket to this concert. I kindly refused their offer, mainly because I did not want to cause any inconvenience to them and thought that I could easily handle getting a ticket to a concert. I mean, how complicated could that be?
The sales started at 11am on the day at the Philharmonie, the magnificent concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, while online and telephone sales would only begin three hours later. I arrived at the Philharmonie at 10:45am, thinking that I would be the first person there and have plenty of time to spare. How wrong and naive was I. There were already at least 500 people lining up in front of the box office, and the end of the queue was nowhere to be seen. Many carried chairs with them, some were munching on their breakfast, and groups of them were playing cards on the floor to help pass the time. In short, it seemed that a large number of these people had been there for hours.
I have seen these scenarios many times in Hong Kong, often in front of the Apple stores the day a new iPhone was to be released, or outside the Hong Kong Coliseum before the ticket sales of a Cantopop superstar, or along Eastern Hospital Road with fans hoping to get a ticket to watch their beloved football team play at the Hong Kong Stadium during the summer months. But at a concert hall’s box offices? Never!
I was shocked, stunned, astonished, startled and flabbergasted by such a sight and literally stood at the Philharmonie’s entrance speechless, with my mouth opened. I have severely underestimated the box office power of the inaugural concert of the Berlin Philharmonic’s new Chief Conductor. If truth be told, over the past year, I have never experienced anything like this on the day when the Berlin Philharmonic’s concerts went on sale, and those concerts all featured some of the most prominent and most popular conductors and soloists of our time.
Unlike Hong Kong, where the cheapest tickets often got sold out first, the Berlin public always fought for the most expensive seats (with a price of at least 200 Euros), which serve to exemplify their wealth and social status, though I must point out that as a regular attendee at the Philharmonie, I can honestly say that the most expensive seats do not always provide the best acoustics quality and view.
A large number of the people in the queue sighed and showed their disappointments upon knowing that the tickets of the top price ranges were sold out, although I was secretly cheering, knowing that I would not need to pay exuberant prices to enjoy this historic concert.
I never lined up in the queue that day, perfectly aware that it would take me at least four hours to get to the ticketing counter, and therefore was only at the Philharmonie for an hour, before heading back home to try my luck when the online sales began at 2pm that day.
I was sitting at my computer at 1:30pm, and repeatedly refreshing my browser. The Berlin Philharmonic’s website even had a timer counting down towards 2pm and I was getting more and more agitated by the minute, with my heart pumping strongly and heartbeat rising continuously.
At 2pm sharp, I got through to the tickets’ page, realised that only around 200 tickets were left to be sold, clicked on the first seat that I saw and was redirected to the checkout page instantly. I paid the 93 Euros, received a confirmation email, took a deep breath and relaxed for the first time that day. It was not until later that I realised those 200 tickets were all sold out in less than 38 seconds.
In hindsight, I should have taken up the offer from my friends within the orchestra, and would have been happy to owe them a hundred favours in exchange for a ticket to this concert!
And I must say that this whole exercise was not for someone with a high blood pressure!
I look forward to reporting on this momentous concert live from the Philharmonie in August, and promise my readers that I would not be tempted by the offers online to sell my ticket for 1,000 Euros!