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A new take on classical

Legendary German record company, Deutsche Grammophon set out to change that popular conception of classical music with the younger audiences. The goal was to meet the youngsters where they were at – both mentally and physically.

It all started out in northern Germany, more specifically in the old free and hanseatic city of Hamburg where Deutsche Grammophon got the idea to challenge international DJs to swap their traditional sets for classical music instead. The sessions were named “Yellow Lounge” – and were situated where the young people felt comfortable coming – in bars, lounges and nightclubs. It took off instantly as the DJs welcomed the opportunity of trying to mix a more complex music genre and the crowds digged the reinterpretation of classical music.

Then we take Berlin

Universal Music, owners of Deutsche Grammophon, quickly realised that Yellow Lounge was a nightclub concept with a huge potential beyond Hamburg (and Germany for that matter) and a possible game-changer for classical music in general. Christian Kellersmann, then head of Universal Music Germany’s classical arm, along with David Canisius and other creative minds took the concept further by incorporating live performances by classical musicians into the events, alongside DJs spinning classical on the decks and VJs enhancing the events with stunning visuals. One of the first stops on the road was Berlin, capital of Germany and home to one of the most vibrant music and clubbing scenes in all of Europe.

Felix mesenburg, the event manager of Yellow Lounge Berlin, says:

“Classical music performance had for too long been associated with the older generation, locked up in venues that seemed inaccessible to the young, where you had to hire a black tie and read up on your composers before you even attempted entry. Why not help the music escape its stuffy confines and bring it to a new audience in an environment they’re familiar with: the nightclub?”

Yellow Lounge Berlin was an immense success from the get-go with thousands of guests lining the queues outside the clubs – among the venues, world famous party haven Berghain and hot spots like Cookies and Gretchen.

One of the main tasks was to take the music to an eye-level, quite literally moving the artists down from the stage and onto the floor just in front of the audience, within arm’s length. The challenge with that was visibility for the people in the back of the clubs, but that was solved by VJs projecting images of the performing artists up onto the walls for all to see and experience the “action” during the events.

Another thing with traditional classical music was the ticket prices. Normally you would have to pay a lot of money to get into a concert – Yellow Lounge has changed that with entry fees as low as 5 euros, making it possible for almost everyone to attend regardless of their income level.

Along came B&O PLAY

The Yellow Lounge concept has spread like wildfire all over the globe since the early days in Germany – and that’s where B&O PLAY came into the picture.

In April 2013 B&O PLAY teamed up with Yellow Lounge to take classical music to even more venues and people out there.

The first collaboration was Yellow Lounge London held at the Fabric nightclub with a performance by Miloš Karadaglić, an award-winning classical guitarist from Montenegro, and Valentina Lisitsa, a Ukrainian-born and trained classical pianist with millions of devoted Youtube followers.

Next up was Yellow Lounge berlin for an exclusive event held at the Kraftwerk nightclub – yes it is an actual power plant too – featuring the world-renowned symphonic choir, Rundfunkchor and an audience of close to 1000 people, mostly made up of what you would describe as hipsters in their 20s.

It’s only in Berlin you can get 1000 people to turn up to a classical music event at 22:00 on a Tuesday!

The fit between B&O PLAY and Yellow Lounge is obvious:

“B&O PLAY and Yellow Lounge share a common foundation: Yellow Lounge is about taking values from a long-refined brand and company, Deutsche Grammophon, and bringing it into a new context and making it relevant for a new generation. This is exactly the same as what we’re about: surprisingly, taking the gist of what Bang & Olufsen is about, sound and design, and making it relevant to a new generation. This is what makes the collaboration so right and honest,” says Henrik Taudorf Lorensen from B&O PLAY.

Mark Wilkinson, President of Deutsche Grammophon agrees: “We couldn’t be happier to be working with a brand such as B&O PLAY as we aim, together, to bring the joys of great classical music to as wide an audience as possible.”

Yellow Lounge is all about curiosity, the point is not to over-stimulate your senses but to give you an appetizer – a glimpse of sorts into the world of classical music. Our hope is that we’ve piqued your interest just a bit. Make sure to check our website and social media channels for updates on the next Yellow Lounge events. We’ll be going all over the world with Yellow Lounge, but the events will only be announced shortly before they take place. That’s part of the excitement – so stay tuned and alert!