Amsterdam; January 15, 2019—Previously, when the musicians of “The World’s Best Orchestra”—a.k.a. Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra—wanted to practice outside the scheduled orchestral rehearsals at the actual Concertgebouw (Amsterdam’s famous shoe-box 1888 concert hall), they had to find their own place to do it; often renting space nearby.
That’ll come to an end on January 19 when the orchestra will officially open its “RCO House”, a 1908 3-floor red brick building located just 500 feet diagonally away from the Concertgebouw, at Gabriël Metsustraat 16: Across from the American consulate and within a limp stone’s throw off the Museumplein, the grassy field around which Amsterdam’s most famous museums cluster.
Anyone who has stayed in old buildings in Amsterdam might worry about the well-being of the instruments or musicians (drafts, leaks, lack of insulation, shoddy heating), but fortunately the joint has been “renovated, restored, and provided with new-build elements to meet all requirements of the orchestra” as per the press release. The house will feature reception rooms, offices, conference rooms, a common room for musicians and staff, and ten acoustically insulated music studios.
This was all done to the tune of €11.2 million that the orchestra was able to raise from private individuals, funds, and companies… of which 1.2 million are allocated as a budget for activities in RCO House—presumably events such as chamber music recitals, workshops, educational and outreach programs.
RCO double bass player and manager of the Concertgebouw’s chamber orchestra “Camerata RCO” Olivier Thiery chimes in: “We are all so excited about the new RCO house. We finally have a place where we can practice, rehearse etc… The brass players are especially happy. Before it was just impossible to do anything; we really had no space at all and no facilities. From now on all the auditions will take place in our building, too, and we expect the new home which is across the street from the concert hall will foster creativity and development.”
The opening will take place with opening activities of the orchestra on Saturday, January 19, but the house will already be open to visit in the wee morning hours on the two days before that. Orchestras without a concert hall and such a home of their own—such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra—are looking on with hopeful envy.