Life In Berlin: "Come Out And Play!" - Orchestre Miniature In The Park

May 27, 2015

Credit Johannes Berger

It happened one summer in Berlin. Musician Klaus Cornfield had spent most of his time in a cellar at band practice, or at a desk working on his comic book. He hardly saw the sun.

"When the summer ended I thought: oh no, next summer I have to do something different and then I decided to meet some people every two weeks in the park."

What began as casual get-togethers soon developed into a musical endeavor. Cornfield and his friends brought instruments to the park. Small instruments -  ukuleles, children xylophones, melodicas and such. They started to cover songs about the summer and the sun.

" 'I Am Walking On Sunshine' for example, which does not really go to your heart so much, but the idea of the song is so romantic and beautiful."

Credit Zippo Zimmerman

30 people on kids instruments performing the ultimate summer play list defines the Orchestre Miniature in the Park, OMP for short. OMP's stage is the public space, their performance schedule loose, their dress code colorful.

Marc Seestaedt plays miniature keyboards in the orchestra:

 "There is like a bandwidth in the orchestra of people who are full blood musicians, who play in several bands and there are some people who can play well enough. It's about being playful and being a little childish. Let's just try this, because it's fun."

Ukulele player Anne Katrin Grimm joined OMP a couple of years ago:

"Sometimes is like, oh we need drums, somebody has to come and play drums, because we have three, or four people who would play drums and the rest, it just happens."

It's fairly easy to get the musicians with their gear to the park, says singer and bandleader Cornfield. Often they just come by bike. But to play the miniature instruments is a different story, says Cornfield:

"You have to play twice as good as a normal band to sound okay, because these instruments are tricky."

Credit Zippo Zimmerman

Regardless of the size, the orchestra is not bound by the parks or city of Berlin. Whatever money they collect after their shows goes into a travel fund. OMP went on tour in France and played parks in Italy. It doesn't matter where they go, the biggest fans, reveals Cornfield, are children and policemen:

"Really the policemen, they like us. And even if the law says we have to stop playing there, they are really sorry every time. They do the best to help us. They say, okay when you go 20 meters to the left, this is not my area anymore, for example." 

"The Sun Will Follow" is an original OMP composition. Their debut CD "Songs About The Sun" comes out in late June, OMP's contribution to the world's catalogue of summer songs. The main message of the Orchestre Miniature in the Park: Come out and play.