Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is one of the very best orchestras in the world. But what makes the orchestra so special? Time and time again, critics have lauded its unique sound, which clearly stands out among thousands of others. Although sound is difficult to describe in words, the RCO’s string section has been called ‘velvety’, the sound of the brass ‘golden’, the timbre of the woodwinds ‘distinctly personal’ and the percussion have an international reputation. While the exceptional acoustics of the Concertgebouw, designed by the architect AL van Gendt, also play an important rôle in this respect, no other orchestra sounds like the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Main Hall. The influence exerted on the orchestra by its chief conductors, of whom there have been only six in the last 125 years, is also important. As is that of the musicians themselves. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is made up of 120 players hailing from over twenty countries. Despite its size, the orchestra actually functions more like a chamber orchestra in terms of the sensitivity with which its members listen to, and work in tandem with, one another. Indeed, this requires both a high individual calibre and a great sense of mutual trust and confidence. The atmosphere onstage, the orchestra’s roots in Amsterdam and the organisational structure (the RCO Board also includes members of the orchestra) all converge to create exactly the right circumstances for exceptional music-making. The musicians are allowed to shine, yet still share responsibility for the collective. They also share the aim of achieving and delivering the highest level of quality at every performance, an ambition that goes far beyond simply playing all the notes perfectly.
Photo: Simon van Boxtel