The Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra gave its first open-air concert, which was enjoyed by a crowd of 25–30 thousand. Under the Chief Conductor Gabriel Feltz, the orchestra performed the programme that had been selected by the audience, with the celebrated Maestro Zubin Mehta featuring as the special guest. The BPO invited music lovers to a concert picnic at the site where the new concert hall will be built, in the New Belgrade Block 13, near the Palace of Serbia.
The Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra stayed true to its tradition and opened its performance at 8pm sharp, with Bizet’s Carmen Overture. However, before they got a chance to play the first notes, they were greeted by a mixed-generation audience with thunderous applause. The orchestra’s new Chief Conductor Gabriel Feltz welcomed the visitors in the Serbian language, setting the whole atmosphere on fire.
– This is your orchestra and I am proud to lead it. We are playing for you, so enjoy it – said Feltz.
As the sunlight slowly faded at the site where the orchestra’s building will be constructed, the musicians played the Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, In the Hall of the Mountain King from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, followed by Ravel’s Bolero. The whole park near the confluence of Sava and the Danube was echoing with Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre and Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, which energized the audience to start hopping and conducting.
– Thank you very much. You are an excellent audience – said Chief Conductor Gabriel Feltz in fluent Serbian.
The programme continued with Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, while the piece Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez, which received the most votes of the audience, was specially announced.
These were followed by John Williams’ Imperial March from the blockbuster film Star Wars. The younger part of the audience immediately jumped on their feet to capture this extraordinary moment with their mobile phones. The whole audience danced as the orchestra played Shostakovich’s Waltz.
The crowd was also delighted to hear the William Tell Overture, while the ovations were the loudest for the suite Turtledove from the ballet The Legend of Ohrid by Stevan Hristić, founder of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.
Between 25 and 30 thousand people gave a thunderous applause to welcome Maestro Zubin Mehta on the stage. The famous conductor directed the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of the finale of Beethoven’s triumphant Fifth Symphony. The ovations lasted for about ten minutes.
Then Feltz returned for encore, for which the orchestra played Stanislav Binički’s March on the Drina. The applause was louder than the speakers. Then, the audience was given a chance to see what it feels like to listen to the New Year’s concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, as they enjoyed Johann Strauss’ Radetzky March, directed by Zubin Mehta.
The concert spectacle was concluded with Leonard Bernstein’s Mambo, conducted by Feltz.
“I am here to support the construction of the concert hall, at this exact site where this fantastic concert was played tonight. I hope that we will meet again in two or three years in the new concert hall”, said Maestro Zubin Mehta after the concert.