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Hello Zurich-West: The Tonhalle Maag is celebrating its opening!

For the next three years, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich will be performing at its temporary home at the Maag site in Zurich-West. In a major opening festival on September 30, the Tonhalle Maag showcased itself to its audience, provided a look behind the scenes, and attracted a lot of curious visitors.

Outside it smelled of hot dogs and popcorn, and inside of wood (Nordic spruce, to be precise) – none of them smells you would automatically associate with the Tonhalle Zurich. Yet lovers of classical music will soon get used to it – well, at least to the scent of wood.

Box in the Box

For the next three years, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich will be performing at its temporary home at the Maag site. And, in celebration of the "Tonhalle Maag," a big party was held on the last day of September. At Maag-Platz, in the foyer, and naturally in the new concert hall too, ensembles of musicians from the Tonhalle Orchestra played musical spin-offs – as it were – throughout the day. Guided tours and panel discussions on the architecture, construction of the hall, and Zurich West attracted lots of interested participants and listeners. Simon Styles, Solo Tuba with the Tonhalle Orchestra since 1983, gave a witty introduction for English-speaking guests and let them in on a few secrets. The history of the Maag site and the Tonhalle Maag was brought to life in a panel discussion between one of the architects of the spruce "Box in the Box" and a great-grandchild of Max Maag, who not only built gearwheels but also organs.

There was a lot to keep younger music lovers entertained as well: They could take part in an instrument circuit, learn how to make music on a tablet, earn their first spurs as a music detective in a workshop, or listen to the "Mouse in a Harp Case" concert. Or alternatively just fill their little tummies with popcorn outside.

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Tonhalle Maag in a Hip Neighborhood

The audience at the evening's concert, which was streamed live to the Maag-Platz and on Facebook, was as mixed as could be and included an impressively large number of young people by classical music standards. This may have been due to the fact that the concert was free. But it could also be because the Tonhalle Maag is located in a culturally diverse and vibrant nightlife district, where trendy clubs such as Hive and Supermarket are located, the Viadukt entices shoppers, the Moods jazz club has offered world-class jazz for 25 years, the music clubs Helsinki and Exil exude their rough charm, and Frau Gerolds Garten lures drinkers – not to mention the Schauspielhaus at the Schiffbau.

At about seven-thirty in the evening, the Sing-Akademie Zurich sang in the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: "Be Embraced, You Millions." The hope is that over the next three years perhaps not millions but many thousands at least will head over to Zurich West to hear the Tonhalle Orchestra perform in this acoustically superb spruce box at the Tonhalle Maag and enjoy a superlative classical music experience.