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The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg will be illuminated by Breaking Waves

A spectacular light installation by the Amsterdam-based artist duo DRIFT will be opening the Hamburg International Music Festival.

UPDATE: The official video of DRIFT’s performance installation on opening night.

Originally planned for 11 January 2022 to mark the Elbphilharmonie’s 5th birthday, the kinetic installation Breaking Waves by the Dutch artist duo DRIFT will now be running from 29 April – 1 May, at 22:30 each day. Hamburg residents and visitors to the city can experience the moving light artwork on the Elbphilharmonie for free from any location in which the western tip and the southern side of the building are clearly visible.

breaking wave music art

Architecture and music, water and light – the magic of the Elbphilharmonie lies in the interplay between these elements. Surrounded by water on three sides, the concert hall rises like a glass wave in the Elbe River. Hundreds of illuminated drones will now dance around the striking building and enhance the architecture in fascinating ways. When choreographing the drones around the Elbphilharmonie, artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of DRIFT, which was founded in 2007, drew inspiration from the second movement of the Piano Concerto by Thomas Adès − an intoxicating work blending classical and jazz, and the central piece in the anniversary concert on 11 January. The music can be accessed at while watching the light installation.

‘We want to depict the marvels that surround us in nature,’ explains Lonneke Gordijn. DRIFT delights art lovers around the world with moving sculptures that take up elements from nature, such as the structure of dandelion seeds or the movement of enormous flocks of birds. In Breaking Waves, a piece commissioned by the Elbphilharmonie to mark its fifth anniversary, the artist duo explores the movement of the water that surrounds the Elbphilharmonie, and connects that to the sound waves inside the venue. The relationship between the building, the water and the music constitutes a key element in how the DRIFT artists aim to synchronise visitors with this special Hamburg landmark.

‘As humans, we are admissible to waves in different ways, and can become one with the movement.’

Lonneke Gordijn of the artist duo DRIFT

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