Something’s brewing in Berlin. And it’s not the beer. Your intrepid and sleepless FDTimes reporter is here to attend a major LEICA product announcement on Thursday, May 10. Tonight is the overture, the warm-up for things to be revealed. Andreas Kaufmann and Alfred Schopf explained that the Berlin event was planned because there are too many new product announcements to wait for Photokina in September. The gathering tonight was quintessential Leica: superbly elegant, not ostentatious. It began with a fleet of Audi A8 cars whisking guests from the airport to the serene and stellar Facil restaurant on the fifth floor of Berlin’s superb boutique The Mandala Hotel for champagne and cocktails.
Overhead, the Lasserre-like hydraulic roof glides open to reveal a warm, sunny-to-magic-hour- to-night sky. Inside, it’s a who’s who of Leica notables: the makers, the purveyors, and the most prominent practitioners. After appetizers of Langoustine and Arctic char, we move to the main course–a concert across the street at the Berlin Philharmonic. Past the Billy Wilder Restaurant, the Berlin Filmhaus, the German Film Museum and the Berlinale Film Festival Headquarters (we’re in the heart of the Berlin film scene), we enter the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall. Leica is one of the sponsors: it is the 40th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic’s 12 Cellists.
What a virtuoso performance in this architectural wonder where nothing is square, where the seats are different heights, the visuals are amazing and the acoustics incredible. The performance includes Michel Legrand’s “Une femme est une femme” from the Jean-Luc Goddard film (1961) of the same name; “As Time goes By” by Herman Hupfeld from “Casablanca” (1942, directed by Michael Curtiz); and “The Man with the Harmonica” by Ennio Morricone from the film “Once Upon a Time in the West,” (1968) directed by Sergio Leone. Morricone’s solo harmonica is replaced by twelve cellos, and it is a magical sound.
After many encores, guests and orchestra returned to the Facil Restaurant for a main course of Bison Filet, dessert, and conversation late into the night/next morning.
The mysteries will be revealed shortly.