For more than a century, the Bochum Symphony Orchestra has yearned for a home to call its own. The Orchestra rehearses in an industrial building outside the center of the city with poor acoustics and insufficient space, and their concerts take place in multiple locations in Bochum, including the Schauspielhaus (Theater) Bochum and the Audimax auditorium at the Ruhr University Bochum, neither of which is acoustically suitable for music performance.
From the moment he was named General Music Director of the City of Bochum in 1994, Steven Sloane was determined to change the status quo for the Orchestra and the Bochum public. He, the Orchestra and the City embarked on what would become a multi-year project to create a home for the Orchestra. Sloane has been a key figure in coordinating and facilitating the development of the project, bringing together the many participants and interests with the goal of giving this fine orchestra its own home at last.
Forging a consensus and winning grass-roots support to fund a concert hall and music center for Bochum was an enormous challenge but, in the end, a broad alliance of citizens, businesses, City and State governments and the EU all came together to support the project. One longtime Symphony subscriber, a successful entrepreneur who believes in the power of music to help build the character of young people, contributed five million Euros. Steven Sloane introduced a fund-raising campaign, inspired by Barack Obama’s grass roots campaign some years earlier, in which he challenged the people of Bochum to produce 10,000 contributions over a period of ten weeks. At the end of the ten weeks, the Musikforum campaign had attracted not 10,000 but 20,000 contributors, some giving a few Euros, others much more.
The new building, officially named the Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr in honor of the late German publisher and philanthropist whose Foundation was a major donor to the project, will be inaugurated in October 2016 at the central Marienplatz, adjacent to the 19 th century St Mary’s Church in the Victoria Quarter.
The creative design integrates the long-vacant, secularized church and gives it a new purpose as entrance and foyer to both a large hall, which will seat 960, as well as a small hall, seating 250 and suitable for smaller ensemble and music school students.
Thus the Musikforum is also perfectly equipped to house Bochum’s vibrant municipal music school, where people of all ages learn instruments, play in bands and sing in choruses. Bochum has the largest music school in the region, with over 10,000 people learning to play instruments.
The Anneliese Brost Musikforum Ruhr will be a music center, a meeting place, a place of cultural exchange for all Bochum’s citizens, a place for music making of all kinds by groups of all sizes – a vital cultural venue at the heart of Bochum.
That’s the Tops
Nokia has left, Opel has closed, coalmines have been shut down: Bochum is a city on the abyss. And that is exactly why it is the chosen location for a new, unusual music forum.
by Frederik Hanssen (Tagesspiegel, 5 April 2016)
German Version HERE