Joana Mallwitz’s recent elevation as the chief conductor of Berlin’s Konzerthaus signals more than just a change in leadership. It represents a transformative moment in the history of Berlin’s classical music scene.
Mallwitz’s Arrival in Berlin
Berlin’s billboards were recently adorned with Joana Mallwitz’s visage, showcasing her as the “next big thing” in the classical music realm. A recent entrant to the Berlin limelight, she finds herself frequently recognized during mundane outings, like a trip to the local bakery.
A Trailblazer in Berlin’s Music World
Only 37 and already leading one of Berlin’s major orchestras, Mallwitz’s youth and gender have unsurprisingly drawn attention. In over three centuries of Berlin’s rich musical history, she is the first woman to helm a major orchestra. Addressing this milestone, Mallwitz emphasizes her focus on the music, stating, “When you’re in front of an orchestra, the only question is, ‘Does it work?'”
The Unavoidable Comparisons
Many draw parallels between Mallwitz and Lydia Tár, a fictional character portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Mallwitz, however, brushes these aside gracefully. While acknowledging some physical resemblance to Blanchett, she remains focused on her unique journey and contributions.
Feedback from the Musical Community
Mallwitz’s approach is characterized by humility. A harpist once described her as “absolutely modest, completely subservient to the music.” Critical acclaim has followed her, with reviewers highlighting her “high voltage” conducting style and her deep emotional connection to the music.
The evolution of the role of the maestro is evident when comparing Mallwitz to her predecessors, like the revered Daniel Barenboim. She notes the diversity of talents in the field, emphasizing the importance of learning from everyone.
Connecting with New Audiences
Mallwitz is not one to rest on her laurels. She believes in actively engaging new audiences, ensuring classical music remains relevant and accessible. Her unique Expeditionskonzert format, designed to take audiences on a musical journey, has proven immensely popular.
Reflecting on the transformative power of music, she recounts her teenage encounter with Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, a piece that remains impactful even today.