“Das ist so Berlin.” So goes the current slogan of Zitty magazine. The ad agency behind the campaign was on to something, because people love to sum things up as “so Berlin”–at least I hear it all the time. Pants-less man passed out on the U-Bahn? “So Berlin.” Spontaneous open-air techno party on the Oberbaum Brücke? Letting motivation atrophy in favour of chronic funemployment? We’ll call that “so Berlin” too.
I’ve heard so many people sum up so many random things as “so Berlin” that I’d thought the term had lost its meaning. And yet I was recently at an event that felt so special and yes, so Berlin, that I might have to take that statement back. The scene: an industrial hall in Wedding, hosting intimate chamber music concerts that deliver top-notch classical music without a hint of pretension. For free. And a table laden with serve-yourself, drink-all-you-want wine. So Berlin. And so amazing.
There is only one negative thing I can say about the Piano Salon Christophori: that its concerts are so atmospherically low-lit, gently illuminated by an assortment of vintage lamps and chandeliers, that it was impossible for amateur me and my smartphone camera to take photos that do the place justice.
But picture this: an industrial hall where BVG train cars were once repaired. I’m talking brick walls, metal beams, loft-style skylights–i.e. the real estate of my wildest fantasies. By day, it’s a workshop for restoring antique pianos. The space is jammed with centuries-old wooden grands, and piano bits and bobs line the walls. By night, the space hosts small, intimate chamber music concerts. You can take a seat on the informal semicircle of chairs, or get cozier on one of the vintage sofas scattered about. No tickets necessary, and the wine buffet, as mentioned, is open too. (There will be a donation canister on your way out.)
The owner of the space and the organizer of the concerts, Christoph Schreiber, is actually a neurologist by profession, and running the salon is purely a labour of love, which makes the whole thing even more wonderful. On the night I was there, Schreiber had invited a fantastically talented young Russian pianist to play a selection of Russian compositions. As the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Profokiev emanated through the room, he kept his eyes closed in a deep state of reverie. At the show’s end, the small audience–ranging from 20-somethings in jeans to spiffy 60-somethings–erupted in applause and cheers.
I first read about these piano salon evenings through the lovely Berlin Reified blog. This was an embarrassing number of years ago. Embarrassing because it took me this long to finally manage to go, and now I regret the years I spent bereft of this place. In the time since Sylee wrote about it, the salon had to move out of Prenzlauer Berg because its original location was getting the luxury renovation treatment–a story that is also, sadly, “so Berlin.” Yet it’s survived, and will hopefully continue to survive. Because Berlin needs places like this.
Piano Salon Christophori: Concerts usually 2-3 times weekly | Uferstr. 8 | Website