The Gewandhausorchester - the world’s largest professional symphony orchestra - takes to the road for around two months each year. As its logistics partner, DHL Trade Fair & Events handles the entire concert logistics when the orchestra is on tour. DHL’s partnership with the Gewandhausorchester dates back to 2005, with DHL becoming Official Logistics Partner in 2009.
The autumn tour comprises 11 concerts across eight European cities. Opening in Frankfurt on October 7, the tour headed to London for two nights to perform an adventurous program including pieces by Andris Dzenītis (UK premiere; Mara for orchestra), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Liza's arioso from The Queen of Spades; Polonaise from Eugene Onegin; Tatyana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin Interval) and Gustav Mahler (Symphony No.1 and No. 5).
Handling concert logistics for the Gewandhausorchester is a huge task that demands tremendous care and expertise. DHL transports some six tons of equipment valued at approximately three million euros to each of the tour’s concert venues. Over the course of the year, DHL transports the precious cargo a total distance of around 8,300 miles. The freight consists mainly of the musical instruments, but also includes wardrobe items, the conductor’s stand and chairs, as well as music stands.
The instruments are both valuable and fragile (many are unique specimens), and require extra special care during transport. As fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause the instruments to go out of tune or even become damaged, they are transported in temperature-controlled containers, kept at a constant 18-20°C. Two trucks are deployed for the orchestra’s two-week autumn tour, with DHL handling customs clearance for tours that venture outside Europe.
“The preparations required for a tour like this are so extensive, that we begin our work up to one and a half years ahead of time,” says Vincenzo Scrudato, Global Managing Director Trade Fairs and Events at DHL. During the tour itself, smooth and fast execution are critical, since there are often only one or two days between concerts and concert venues are often separated by long distances. “Even on off days, we have work to do, bringing the instruments to the hotel so the musicians can practise,” says Scrudato.
The Gewandhausorchester/DHL partnership now extends beyond concert logistics. In October 2018, for example, DHL and Teach First hosted a meet-and-greet event for local school children from St Gabriel’s College at London’s Southbank Centre. The event gave school students a look behind the scenes at the famous venue and the chance to meet Gewandhausorchester musicians and try out their instruments. Additional “Meet the Artists” events have been held in Houston, Vienna, Essen, Frankfurt, Baden-Baden and Cologne. These are organised as part of Deutsche Post DHL Group’s GoTeach program, which aims to improve educational opportunity and employability for socially disadvantaged children and young people.
“Meeting this world-class orchestra is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the students from St Gabriel’s College. This experience will expose them up to culture and career opportunities that they would otherwise be unlikely to consider. We hope that the experience DHL and Gewandhausorcher are giving them will inspire them with possibilities." Ben Leitch, London School Lead from Teach First,
In addition, DHL is launching a collaboration with Spotify to deliver a special playlist curated by Gewandhauskapellmeister, Andris Nelsons. The playlist has been handpicked by Nelsons to include music that has inspired him over his career. It will bring fans and listeners even closer to one of the most renowned professional orchestras playing today. “I’ve brought together the music that has inspired me over the last few decades,” says Andris Nelsons. “The music you’ll hear has formed the soundtrack of my career. It has given me joy and motivated me to create even more incredible musical moments both as a conductor and musician. The playlist also reflects the values of precision and innovation that the Gewandhausorchester shares with its trusted partners. I hope the music provides you with inspiration, focus and motivation – just as it has for me.”