The 'Festival of Freedom' began at 7 pm with an open-air concert at Pariser Platz by the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim. After the concert, the fall of the Berlin Wall was symbolised by knocking over the designed dominos, which was broadcast live in ZDF from 7.25 until ca. 8.15 pm. About 250,000 thousand people attended this extraordinary event.
Under musical direction of Daniel Barenboim the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Staatsopernchor (choir study: Eberhard Friedrich) played the following programme:
- Richard Wagner: Lohengrin, Prelude to Act III
- Arnold Schönberg: A Survivor from Warsaw, op. 46 (Speaker: Klaus Maria Brandauer)
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 A major, op. 92, IV: Allegro con brio
- Friedrich Goldmann: Es ist, als habe einer die Fenster aufgestoßen (Fragment, 2009)
Ca. 7.25 pm Entrance of the guests of honour (heads of states and governments) through the Brandenburg Gate from East to West
Ca. 7.30 pm Greetings and speeches by Klaus Wowereit and Angela Merkel andrepresentatives of the former Allies Nicolas Sarkozy, Dmitry Medvedev, Gordon Brown and Hillary Clinton. Speech by Marianne Birthler in the company of Katrin Hattenhauer and Roland Jahn.
Ca. 8 pm Statements by Lech Walesa and Miklós Németh in discussion with moderator Guido Knopp and fall of the first dominos at the Reichstagsufer, followed by music from ADORO. Appearance of Mikhail Gorbachev and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, brief discussion with moderator Thomas Gottschalk. Followed by Bon Jovi presenting the song "We Weren't Born To Follow"
Ca. 8.25 pm Berlin pupils and Jerzy Buzek and José Manuel Barroso in discussion with moderator Klaas Heufer-Umlauf at the Potsdamer Platz. Fall of the longest row of dominos, almost all the way to the Brandenburg Gate, accompanied by the band Stamping Feet. Statements by Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and young artist Ahn Kyu-Chul from the divided Korea in discussion with moderator Thomas Gottschalk.
Ca. 8.40 pm Finale: Paul van Dyk presents the hymn "We are One". Fall of the last domino in the presence of everyone involved and the guests of honour at the Brandenburg Gate.
It was cold and wet, but it was exciting to see the celebrations. It was neat to see so many country and state leaders gathered together right in front of me. I thought it was particularly striking to see Gorbachev and Genscher together. I was standing right behind the Brandenburg Gate. I had a decent view of the stage where the orchestra played. Most everything else I watched on a big screen. There were so many people! Crowds filled the whole stretch from Postdamer Platz, all the way past the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate. I also got to see Bon Jovi! (video) To symbolize the fall of the wall, a chain of giant dominoes, each decorated by schools and organizations worldwide, was knocked down. (video) To top off the evening, the Gate was set ablaze with pyrotechnics and fireworks lit up the sky!
Afterwards I went for a box of noodles for two reasons: they are a tasty snack, and they are served hot which is great if you have been standing in the cold for several hours. My hands were so cold that I had trouble using chopsticks!