EUYO in Berlin – Meeting history, creating future
On 9 November 2014, the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with chamber music along the former border as part of the Lichtgrenze [Border of Lights] project and in the Reconciliation Chapel of the Berlin Wall Memorial. The orchestra provided the symphonic framework for the official speeches celebrating European unity, performed as part of the Falling Walls Conference, as well as the sponsorship for many of the lighted balloons in the Border of Lights project and learned much about Europe, both past and present, as part of the anniversary festivities. The young musicians from 28 EU nations, many of whom were not even born in 1989, took part in a musical journey of discovery as part of the celebrations commemorating one of the most important moments in European history.
The EUYO represents a living and successful example of shared European ideals, based on the backgrounds of its members and sponsors and, above all, are rooted in its mission and artistic profile. Its very existence would be unthinkable without the closer political ties resulting from the fall of the Berlin Wall. The young musicians, who are today 14 to 24 years old, represent the first generation in Europe, who never experienced the Iron Curtain.
“Here in Berlin it is the way the people of Cyprus wish it could be in our homeland – finally united again”, said Storys Chrysostomou, a young musician from Cyprus, who was 21 years old, when he spoke to ARD reporter Maria Ossowski. “I live in the capital of Cyprus, in Nicosia, which is also divided. Not by a wall, but by a green line. I can imagine, what that must have been like here 25 years ago.”
The project was initiated by Andreas Richter and the CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra, Marshall Marcus. Generous support was provided by the German government’s Commissioner for Culture and Media, as well as other partners such as the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, Kulturprojekte Berlin, Stiftung Berliner Mauer, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and Radialsystem V.
As Andreas Richter put it: “The peaceful revolution of 1989 had an enormous influence on Europe. Without the solidarity of the European nations, reunification would have been unthinkable. Could there be any better way to express feelings of gratitude and joy about this historic event than with a group of young people from all parts of Europe performing music that touches people’s hearts?”
In early 2016, the EU withdrew its support for the EUYO, citing changes in its cultural sponsorship program. This was met by a storm of protest from musicians, artists, audiences, and the media throughout Europe. Andreas Richter wrote an article on the subject, which was published in Der Tagesspiegel.