Philharmonie 2018/19 season in images

Philharmonie 18-19 season in images_-13.jpg

philharmonie 2018/19 season in images

I cannot emphasize enough how lucky and grateful I am to be able to work for the Philharmonie of Luxembourg as a photographer. Every year I get to see some of the best artists in the world while exercising my job, which I also truly love.

Luxembourg might not be that big but I do believe the cultural offer of this city is on par with any other major European capital. The Philharmonie has established itself as one of the major concert halls in Europe and its season program is proof that any renown artist has to include it on their concerts tours.

The other thing that I am extremely grateful for is the highly prepared, motivated, friendly and down to earth staff of the Philharmonie. From the director to the maintenance staff, all the teams involved in the running of this concert hall make an incredible ensemble, quite like an orchestra performing beautiful music.

I have had some great moments during this past season that ended last weekend with the open air concert at the Kinnekswiss park and the End of Season Party (EOSP) at the Philharmonie. Starting from the most recent ones this weekend, I just thought Welsh baryton-basse Sir Bryn Terfel was genius when he improvised during a piece by bringing some beers on stage and giving them to soprano Lauren Fagan and conductor Gustavo Gimeno .

After the superb open air concert I headed for the Philharmonie building where the EOSP 2018/19 was taking place until 5am. The Philharmonie apparently sold over 2000 tickets and by the looks of the grand foyer I thought there could be even more people. Some of the best DJs were providing great beats for everybody to get into some sort of trance. I had to wear earplugs because the volume was just out of the ordinary. I really enjoyed that too and it was a stark contrast to the open air concert and my last job for the season.

From this season I also have some other great memories. I have photographed concerts ranging from classical to jazz, to contemporary music, to folk & world music, and have followed the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg (OPL) several times on their performances around Europe. One particular concert on tour that I remember well was the one at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Not only I truly enjoyed following the OPL but I also got to be the first photographer to be allowed to work in the hall during the concert thanks to my mirrorless Sony cameras. You can read about this experience in another blog post of mine called “Breaking the sound barrier”

You will also see in my selection some images of the Philharmonie building itself, which I think it is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. You can read an article published on the Luxembourg Times about the building and my work as a photographer published by journalist Sarita Rao.

Everybody working for the Philharmonie deserves a good Summer break to come back full of energy for the opening of the next season in September. I will disconnect until then and will hopefully be able to enjoy a family Summer vacation in beautiful Ireland where I could not stop taking pictures. My other big passion, apart from my work at the Philharmonie, is landscape photography and Ireland is just one of the most photogenic countries in the world.

I leave you now with a “small” selection of the images I have made during this season and I wish you all a great Summer and hope you can also disconnect and charge your batteries during the holidays. I also thank you all for your time and support.

Take good care and enjoy!!

The challenges of concert photography

Recently I had one of the most challenging assignments as a concert photographer for the Philharmonie concert hall of Luxembourg. I thought I would put together a few thoughts on my experience so other people get an insight on what goes on when they see these images published in the national and international newspapers as well as the Philharmonie’s own publications.

The Philharmonie Luxembourg, also known officially as the Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte, is a concert hall located in the European district of Luxembourg City, an area known as Kirchberg. It opened in 2005, now plays host to 400+ performances each year and has become one of Europe's premier concert venues.

The Philharmonie Luxembourg, also known officially as the Grande-Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte, is a concert hall located in the European district of Luxembourg City, an area known as Kirchberg. It opened in 2005, now plays host to 400+ performances each year and has become one of Europe's premier concert venues.

«Humanity is fascinating, and if you are truly interested in it, it becomes much more fascinating yet». P. Sellars

American theater director Peter Sellars created a moving staging of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion in 2014, and in collaboration with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment and the direction of Sir Simon Rattle we were treated in Luxembourg to a performance of such beauty that it felt somehow other-worldly. Sellars says his aim was to humanise Bach’s masterpiece.

In part, these intense feelings were enhanced by the superb lighting provided by the light technicians at the Philharmonie. It created very intimate scenes that looked like living pictures. The challenge for me was to capture these scenes in a way that my own feelings were conveyed in the images I produced. That is always what I aim for but in this occasion the difficulties were higher than average due to the very high contrast produced by deep shadows and bright lights. I was also limited as the usual spots from where I take pictures were mostly unavailable. This forced me to be inside the main hall and follow the imperative of being unnoticed and unheard as a photographer.

How did I achieve this? First of all I need to wear dark clothing so as to go as unnoticed as possible when moving around the hall. Shoes are important too since the floors are polished and they need to be made of materials that don’t produce that typical squeaky noise. I also need to know my way around the building perfectly and be cautious while moving in almost complete dark in some areas.

The Grand Auditorium of the Philharmonie Luxembourg

The Grand Auditorium of the Philharmonie Luxembourg

My equipment also plays a very important role in my endavour of going about my job as unnoticed as possible. Not so long ago, cameras used to have mechanical parts that made considerable noise especially in quiet environments. This has been a curse for photographers and the only way to go about it was to use some noise reduction housing that made cameras silent but very heavy and cumbersome. These things were also quite expensive. With the advent of Mirrorless System Cameras everything changed. I wrote another post on this subject recently called breaking the sound barrier.

Some two and a half years ago I decided to gradually move into the Sony mirrorless system and I have already completed the full switch. I could not be happier about it. These cameras are 100% silent and alow me to worry only about the content of my images. For these assignments I always carry two camera bodies, Sony a9 paired with the Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM lens and a Sony a7RIII paired with the Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM lens.

Knowing that I can move around without being noticed gives me the freedom to concentrate on capturing those intense and delicate moments musicians and performers go through on stage. I enjoy the whole process of producing my images, from getting my equipment ready to the digital developing of the files. Seeing my images in the press and publications always provides a sense of deep satisfaction. I can only say I am very fortunate and I absolutely love my job.

I leave you here with a small selection of the images I captured at during the performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion and I thank you for your time.

2018, a year in images

It has been a great year for my photography I am happy to say. It started with a trip to New York that left me very impressed. All about that city is just on a different scale, love it or hate it, New York will surely never leave anybody indifferent. The only thing was that freezing temperatures of down to -18C made it quite a challenge to stand outdoors for long periods of time.

On my way back to Luxembourg I started the new year with some great concerts and by early February we had our own cold spell. Snow brings beauty and quietness to the city of Luxembourg, making it even more attractive than it usually is.

2018 has been the year I finally made the transition to a mirrorless camera system. For those unsure what that really means, it’s the final step on the digital transformation of photography. Mirrorless cameras do not have the pentaprism and the mirror to produce an image in the viewfinder. The light travels through the lens directly to the digital sensor and from there it is either shown in the rear LCD screen or in the electronic viewfinder.

There are many advantages of mirrorless over DSLR cameras but for me one that made me take the plunge was the ability to shoot 100% silently. Since most of my work as a photographer is for the Philharmonie of Luxembourg I was often in situations where making any noise whatsoever was not allowed. Now I can shoot and keep one of the premises of a good concert photographer; go unnoticed.

My Sony cameras have allowed me to work in some concert halls in Europe where previously photographers could not take pictures during the concerts. One such case that I am very proud of was at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Apparently I was the very first photographer to be allowed in the hall during a concert. You can read more about this experience in my previous blog post breaking the sound barrier.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do something with my working life that feels like I’m not working at all. My work for the Philharmonie in Luxembourg allows me to combine two passions of mine, music and photography. I also have found a love for architecture photography and I am very happy that led to the production of a 2019 calendar for the main costumers, press and patrons of the Philharmonie.

Landscape photography was and still is something that brings me much joy. I am also very lucky to be able to work for the National Tourist Office of Luxembourg. I also got into a great collaboration with fellow and friend photographer Christophe Van Biesen to run together landscape photography workshops. It has been a great pleasure to work together with Christophe and meet so many enthusiastic photographers.

I also traveled to beautiful Slovenia with a group of friend photographers and had great fun photographing the area around Triglav National Park. Slovenia is an amazing country for nature activities of any type and it is not getting the hordes of tourists other countries get. I sincerely hope it stays like that.

Ireland and Northern Spain were two other great destinations where I enjoyed the landscapes as well as the local culture and their people.

The year is coming to an end and I hope 2019 is at least as good as 2018 was. Me and my family stayed in Luxembourg for the end of the year holidays and despite the lack of snow we got the rather unusual freezing fog which brings to the otherwise dull Winter landscape a beautiful touch of brightness and contrast.

I sincerely hope 2019 brings plenty of good things to everyone. Some recent sociopolitical, economic and ecological developments have not been promising anything good so my efforts and hopes will go towards a kinder, more understanding, fairer world.

I wish you all the very best for 2019. Take good care and enjoy!

Enjoying Winter in Luxembourg

This Christmas we have stayed in Luxembourg and despite the lack of snow we have been lucky enough to have a few days of the beautiful and unusual freezing fog. The usually brown and dull winter landscape is completely transformed by the freezing fog, which adds a white coating over the trees that provides a gorgeous contrast with the surrounding elements. I took a few walks and produced some images that I hope reveal the special conditions we have had in Luxembourg over the last few days.

The images were taken in the Grünewald forest on the edge of Luxembourg city, around Berdorf in the Mullerthal region and the Éislek region.



Photography Workshop - Mullerthal, Luxembourg's Little Switzerland - 14th October 2018

 

I am really happy to announce the second photography workshop organised by friend and fellow photographer Christophe Van Biesen and myself. This time we explore the Mullerthal Region of Luxembourg, also known as Luxembourg's little Switzerland.

After the success of our workshops in the magical forest of Hallerbos and the beautiful Upper-Sûre lake in Luxembourg we are organising a new one. You will be able to learn by hands on practical advice from two experienced photographers. Between us we have countless hours of experience in hiking and photographing in many parts of the world.

If you are interested you can already subscribe to the Mullerthal workshop by following this link here where you can also get some more detailed information about ourselves and the practicalities of the workshop.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter so you get to know when and where we are organising our workshops.

I hope to see you there. All the best!

 

Tribute to Miloš Forman

Last night I was photographing a cinema-concert at the Philharmonie of Luxembourg. The film was one of my all time favourites, Amadeus by Miloš Forman. The performance of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Luxembourg was exquisite.

However, this morning I learnt that Miloš Forman had passed away at roughly the same time his film was being projected and we were all immersed in this superbly beautiful interpretation of Mozart's life. While I'm sad about Miloš Forman passing away, I think captivating audiences like this is surely something not many mortals can say they were able to do. Thank you Miloš and Mozart for combining your great art and giving us reasons to be passionate about life.

Hallerbos Photography Workshop 29th April 2018

3am rise, 2 1/2 hours drive to get to Hallerbos from Luxembourg, 5+ hours walking in the forest under constant rain, 2 hours editing session at a Portuguese cafe (the pasteis de nata were delicious), 2 1/2 hours drive back to Luxembourg....was it worth it? Absolutely!!!!!!

We had a great group of people that despite the weather inclemencies were happy to be in such a beautiful place learning and improving their photography skills.

I only took a few pictures with my compact camera but they give an idea of the morning we had at Hallerbos.

Thank you very much to all the participants of this workshop and also to my co-host Christope Van Biesen. Stay tuned for more workshops in and around Luxembourg coming soon.

Fatoumata Diawara @ Philharmonie Luxembourg

I saw Fatoumata Diawara in concert some five years ago. I have good memories about that concert and expected to enjoy something good again last night, however, we were all treated with one of the best concerts ever at the Philharmonie.

Fatoumata Diawara during her 2013 concert at Philharmonie Luxembourg

These five years seem to have left no mark on Fatoumata other than her improved musical maturity. Her energy levels and capacity to engage and electrify the audience remained unchanged, something that has its merit here in Luxembourg due to the nature of the main Philharmonie hall that tends to make people not engage so much when it comes to dancing.

Fatoumata during her concert last night

The whole auditorium was ecstatic, everyone alike, children, adults, people sitting on the balconies, even some elderly people making an effort to shake those hips. I couldn't resist myself and in between shots I could not stop dancing a bit.

The whole auditorium was up and dancing to Diawara's African beat

I will share with you a few of my favourite shots from Diawara's concert. We all left the auditorium energised and you could sense that in the main foyer of the Philharmonie everybody was feeling very happy and raved about the concert they just enjoyed.

Fatoumta Diawara achieved one of the things she mentioned durig the concert and that was to make us all forget our worries and preconceptions about others and enjoy life through music and dance.

A hellish Christmas walk

After a couple of days of doing nothing but eating, sitting around, playing board games and having some nice family time I decided to push myself a little and walk up the Mournes.

The weather forecast was clear skies and near freezing temperatures. I wanted to see a location I had visited during one of my Summers over here; "the devil's coach road".

I love this type of dramatic name, which is very appropriate for the huge gully that runs down from the summit of Slieve Beg.

IMG_0008.JPG

This was the end of my hike and I hardly took any pictures due to the strong winds, intense fog and icy slopes. I was happy enough to do some good exercise and enjoy the high Mournes but I also enjoy capturing some of those beautiful scenes the Mournes has to offer.

IMG_0004.JPG

The fog was very intense but luckily on my way back from the Devi's coach road there was a brief opening which let me see some delicate light over the beautiful Annalong Valley.

IMG_0006.JPG

I was already starting my descend and realised the ice was making things very difficult for me. I only fell once but could have fallen many times. It was extremely slippery and dangerous. It took me longer to go down than climb up since I had to watch every step I was taking. Someone not so lucky had a fall on the path and got a nasty injury.

IMG_0002.JPG

I continued my way down and took a few more pictures but the conditions were not ideal for photography. I really enjoyed my walk though. I like pushing myself physically and after a few days of comfort it felt great to be up there in the cold, lonely and beautiful high Mournes.

Some people struggling not to slip on the icy slopes

Some people struggling not to slip on the icy slopes

IMG_0001.JPG

of music and snow

Since I saw and photographed Tigran Hamasyan for the first time back in 2013 I have been a great fan of his music. He is another of my all time favourite musicians for many reasons.

Like Dhaffer Youssef, who I saw very recently at the Philharmonie of Luxembourg, Hamasyan is very unique and daring in his approach to music. There is no conformism whatsoever in his music, he always delivers truly beautiful and rich music in his albums. Moreover I find his concerts are even better than his albums, a sign of a great, committed musician.

In case you are curious about his latest album, "An Ancient Observer" you can follow this link

Last night I had the immense pleasure to see him once again, this time at the SMC (salle de musique de chambre) at the Philharmonie. It was a solo concert this time but absolutely nobody in the hall was disappointed about that. On the contrary, we were elevated by Tigran's music, so much so that at the end he got two encores as the audience was feeling very grateful for such a great concert.

As the cherry on the cake, we all got to see the first snowfall of the winter as we were coming out of the Philharmonie. It was a gorgeous feeling to see the snow falling at night with Tigran's music still resonating in my head.

Dhafer Youssef

After a busy weekend, I went to the Philharmonie of Luxembourg on a Sunday night to photograph a musician I had heard of but had not listened to.

I was feeling a bit tired but soon Dhafer Youssef and band made me forget all that giving one of the most electrifying concerts I have seen so far at the Philharmonie.

Dhafer Youssef's music ticks all the boxes for what I consider to be exceptional. He is a Tunisian born oud player, vocalist and composer who became interested in jazz at an early age. His music is very eclectic, daring and not self-centered. I found Dhafer Youssef to be one of those rare musicians that are not only very talented but truly engaging with the other musicians and also with the audience, giving everyone a share of the protagonism.

By the end of the concert, everyone in the hall was standing up, dancing, even hugging each other and feeling really uplifted.

I was tired no more and left the beautiful Philharmonie full of energy and dying to get home to keep listening more music from the great Dhafer Youssef while processing the many photographs I had taken during the concert.

If you feel curious about his work check his homepage http://www.dhaferyoussef.com/

If you already knew Dhafer Youssef and have been to some of his concerts let me know what you think in the comments bellow.

As he always said at the beginning of a song...bon voyage! and we were all transported to another, higher place.

All images © Alfonso Salgueiro Photography

 

Rainy Days Festival 2017

It has been an intense week of work for me at the Philharmonie Luxembourg and I wanted to share some of the photographic highlights I captured during the many shows that were offered as part of the 2017 edition of the Rainy Days Festival.

I will start by pointing out the reason behind the orange colour of the first image. The Philharmonie is taking part this week in the "orange week" initiative, which is dedicated to raising awareness of violence against women. You can learn more about it here.

The week has been loaded with a tight program of mainly contemporary music concerts, shows and conferences. The Rainy Days Festival is not your conventional music festival but I found it extremely interesting and engaging. 

Some of the shows were truly great while some others I loved less, but that is always the case with any sort of music, it all comes down to personal preference and taste.

All in all I think it is very important to have such festivals organised in Luxembourg since they provide diversity and a cutting edge to the musical and cultural scene of the country.

Feel free to browse through the images below and leave any comments if you feel like it. I found the festival not only musically exciting but photographically a brilliant exercise and a challenge to my vision as a photographer.

 

21st century rock & roll

The Legendary Tigerman - Philharmonie Luxembourg

I made a surprising musical discovery recently while working at the Philharmonie Luxembourg. As part of the Atlantico Festival, The Legendary Tigerman had an amazing show for those of us who were there. 

It took place in a small hall in the Philharmonie but there were numerous followers of this Portuguese musician. A three people band, some amazing lighting, the uncompromising music of the legendary tigerman took the mood of the night to a very high place.

If anyone thought Rock & Roll was dead, it isn't. Legendary Tigerman does 21st century Rock & Roll and it is daring, deep and brilliant. Well worth listening to some of his music if you want to find out what I mean.

Beyond the landscapes

Most of the work I do as a photographer is for the Philharmonie of Luxembourg concert hall, yet I don't share most of those images on social media due to some rights restrictions and also because I have to admit most people know me as a landscape photographer.

Anoushka Shankar

Anoushka Shankar

For me the work I do at the Philharmonie concert hall is very fulfilling and exciting and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the chance to combine two of my passions, photography and music. 

The OPL cinema concert, Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey

The OPL cinema concert, Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey

The variety of shows I get to photograph at the Philharmonie is impressive, I can get anything from a classical quartet to experimental jazz. I love that variety since my music taste is per se very eclectic. 

Mariza

Mariza

I love my job as a photographer but one of the things I love the most is the fact that I do very different things. From photographing concerts, art performances, landscapes, architecture, events and the occasional environmental portrait I feel I will never get bored of doing the same thing. Surprisingly enough I find connections between these photographic fields and have been able to exchange techniques from them all.