Urban String is a monthly concert series by the Hamburg-based chamber orchestra Ensemble Resonanz. A central feature of the series is the ensemble's concert hall, the Resonanzraum: the space was built especially for the group in an abandoned World War II-era bunker and opened to the public in 2014.
Thanks to the Resonanzraum, Urban String concerts enjoy a unique, club-like atmosphere. Each evening is especially curated by ensemble musicians, who also provide short introductions to the pieces. Some programs feature guest soloists who add to the group musically, while almost every event features a DJ or electronic musician. Each section of the program works like a set; the audience drinks and talks between groups of pieces, but adheres to a concert atmosphere while the musicians are performing.
What the nominator wrote:
Urban String is not the only classical concert series that aims for a club atmosphere, that features DJs, or where listeners sit with drinks in hand. In fact, The New Yorker recently called the format a common “gimmick.” So what makes Urban String so special?
First of all, Ensemble Resonanz guarantees musical quality. Despite all the effort that goes into the atmosphere, the music – whether contemporary, Romantic, Baroque or older – is always the main focus of the evenings. Concert programming is well thought out and engaging without being pretentious or fussy. Overly academic concepts are discarded in favor of themes that the audience can hear and feel.
Unlike other club concerts, Urban String doesn't try to appeal to the lowest common denominator or apologize for classical music. Instead, Ensemble Resonanz speaks to Hamburg's intelligent, alternative, avant-garde population. It's silly to argue about authenticity, but Urban String is clearly an authentic concert series. The musicians play with a sense of fun that can't be faked.
But the best way to get a sense of what Urban String is about is to go see a concert. The media often focuses on one-off »solutions« to classical music's »problems«. These performances offer something more modest: an excellent concert series, uniquely suited to its city, with real relevance in the lives of the city's residents.