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Hamburg's spectacular Elbphilharmonie opens for 1st concert

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/11/2017 By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press
FILE - This Feb. 2, 2016 file picture shows the glass-clad exterior of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP.file) © The Associated Press FILE - This Feb. 2, 2016 file picture shows the glass-clad exterior of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP.file)

BERLIN (AP) — Hamburg's spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is finally hosting its first concert on Wednesday night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget.

In this Jan. 10, 2017 images a laserboard displays a countdown with the words '1 DAY'TO'GO' on the outside of the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany. The concert hall opens on Jan. 11, 2017. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP) © The Associated Press In this Jan. 10, 2017 images a laserboard displays a countdown with the words '1 DAY'TO'GO' on the outside of the new Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany. The concert hall opens on Jan. 11, 2017. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)

President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock.

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2016 file picture the sunset reflecting in the windows of the new 'Elbphilharmonie' Philharmonic Building in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Axel Heimken/dpa via AP,file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2016 file picture the sunset reflecting in the windows of the new 'Elbphilharmonie' Philharmonic Building in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Axel Heimken/dpa via AP,file)

The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will play music from the renaissance to the present, including works by Beethoven and Wagner and a new piece by German composer Wolfgang Rihm.

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2016 file photo visitors of the Plaza of the Elbphilharmonie explore the access to the observation platform in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Axel Heimken\dpe via AP, file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2016 file photo visitors of the Plaza of the Elbphilharmonie explore the access to the observation platform in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Axel Heimken\dpe via AP, file)

The grand opening was sold out quickly and the almost 500,000 tickets for the first half of this year are also long gone, but curious onlookers were invited to follow a light show on the building's facade.

FILE - In this May 5, 2016 file picture the Elbe Philharmonic Hall is photographed in Hamburg, Germany. a Hmburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Markus Scholz/dpa via AP,file) © The Associated Press FILE - In this May 5, 2016 file picture the Elbe Philharmonic Hall is photographed in Hamburg, Germany. a Hmburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Markus Scholz/dpa via AP,file)

Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz stressed that the concert hall should be accessible to everyone.

FILE = This Nov. 4, 2016 file photo shows a view into the staircase in the foyer, photographed during a press tour through the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP) © The Associated Press FILE = This Nov. 4, 2016 file photo shows a view into the staircase in the foyer, photographed during a press tour through the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg’s spectacular new Elbphilharmonie concert hall is to finally host its first concert on Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017 night, several years behind schedule and far over the original budget. Germany’s President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the guests expected at the maiden concert, to be conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester will present a mélange of compositions from the renaissance to the present. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)

"I firmly intend that ... all children who go to school in Hamburg will have once heard a concert at the Elbphilharmonie," Scholz said, according to the German news agency dpa.

The landmark building with its wave-shaped roof and shiny glass facades was built on top of a former cocoa and coffee warehouse jutting out into the harbor of Germany's second-biggest city.

It's also home to a hotel with 244 beds and houses 44 apartments. There's an outside platform that is accessible without charge to everyone.

The main concert hall can seat 2,100 people, none more than 30 meters (98 feet) from the conductor.

The stage is in the center, surrounded by terraced tiers. The hall is covered by plaster paneling, the so-called "white skin," and sits atop 362 bags of feathers for sound insulation. It has been praised for its impressive acoustics.

Construction started in 2007 and was originally supposed to be finished in 2010. The cost to taxpayers climbed from an initially planned 77 million euros to 789 million euros ($835 million).

But the delays and cost increases were set aside for the grand opening.

"Hamburg is setting an example for the great significance of art and culture in a free society," Scholz said.

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