In 2013 the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra went on a world tour to celebrate its 125th birthday. Director Heddy Honigmann accompanied the musicians and made a film that shows how music can bring people together and tug at the heartstrings. She explores this topic through a series of short episodes, and it is the intimate moments that are the most emotional.
We see how a married couple who play in the orchestra offer a sales assistant in a shop selling bonbons a private performance. There’s a taxi driver who lives for classical music. And a street performance in Soweto in South Africa that builds a bridge between classically trained musicians and streetwise kids. There’s also a German musician who speaks to his young son on the telephone from his hotel room in Buenos Aires. This mosaic puts a face to the individuals who form this celebrated orchestra. Honigmann also shows the logistics and organisation involved in preparing the world’s major concert halls and transporting instruments. It’s a gigantic operation. With these juxtapositions, she shows how the orchestra forms a close-knit team that offers scope for individual development and identity. All this makes Around the World in 50 Concerts a successful tribute to the orchestra that has carried the title ‘Royal’ since 1988. IDFA 2014 opened with this film and with good reason.