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Dan Dediu – an interview on Perpetuum mobile about the International Week of New Music

Monday, 4 June 2018 , ora 9.52

The artistic director of the event talked to Lucian Haralambie about the series of concerts performed between May 20-27, but also about tendencies in contemporary music

In our studio at Radio Romania Music we have composer Dan Dediu! Welcome!

Hello, glad to be here!

You are also the artistic director of the International Week of New Music, which is the topic of our show today. The series will start May 20, this Sunday. Where will the first concert take place?

The International Week of New Music - a festival of contemporary music founded by Academy member Ștefan Niculescu in 1991 - has reached its 28th edition and we have become accustomed to performing the first concert at the Romanian Athenaeum, alongside the Concerto Orchestra, the orchestra of the National University of Music in Bucharest, conducted by Bogdan Vodă. Last year we started in the same fashion and it was an exceptional concert. So, here we are, at it again, and we hope we can start the year in force. An while the ending of the festival last year was at the Radio Hall, alongside the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra, this year it will be alongside the Profil Sinfonietta conducted by Tiberiu Soare, this time in the George Enescu room at the National University of Music.

The festival will see two concerts being performed at the Radio Hall. First if all I would like to talk about the themes and the cycles of concerts with which you have accustomed us.

Every time I think of keeping the same format because people get accustomed to it, and I've actually found four interesting themes that I've given a representative name: Odysseus - beyond the borders of culture, Gulliver - beyond the borders of history, Nirvana - beyond the borders of the self and Matrix - beyond the borders of nature. So inside these themes there will be very distinct concerts that shape themselves on the themes, either looking for different cultures, beyond the borders of history, of the self, so seeking passage to a sacred level and, last but not least, to state of the art technology, which bears the name "Matrix".

Besides these four main themes we have approached during the last three year in the festival, I thought of creating other, parallel elements. And here we really focus on young people - young interpreters and new music, and second, I would put the composers, the young composers - Desant 2018, because we have a very interesting vanguard of young composers who I have scheduled and pushed to write for this festival. And, last but not least, we also have a direction we called Tribute. There are personalities who have died not too long ago and to whom we would like to pay homage. It's about a portrait-concert, such as Tribute to Anatol Vieru, then a Tribute portrait of Liviu Dănceanu, Tribute to Thomas Beimel who, though not Romanian, was a great connoisseur and promoter of Romanian musical cultural in Germany; so, we're performing a tribute portrait-concert to him as well.

There's one more important thing I would like to say: the two concerts of the Radio orchestras - Radio Romania being a strong supporter of the festival since its inauguration - are different. First of all, we mark the 100th Anniversary of the Great Union with a very interesting program. We have two composers that we pay homage to: Tiberiu Olah and Liviu Glodeanu. From Tiberiu Olah we have the suite from the movie Mihai Viteazul - overwhelmingly famous and appreciated by music lovers - and, after 40 years since its premiere, we are doing Liviu Glodeanu's oratorio on a text by Nichita Stănescu, an oratorio called "A Land Called Romania". I think it's the best and most impressive oratorio dedicated to Romania by a Romanian composer, a composer who died at 39 and who would have been 80 this year.

Let's go back to the International Week of New Music, which will also include a musicology symposium. Can you give us any details about this moment?

Yes, we do have a symposium as well. Every year we were careful to introduce a musicology symposium focused on the figures we pay homage to. And here we have a section dedicated to Tiberiu Olah and a section dedicated to Livu Glodeanu. We have foreign guests and Romanian guests and Olguța Lupu, who has always been the coordinator of these symposiums every 6-7 months, managed to also publish a book containing the papers presented at the conference. So, as you see, we are promoting the values of the festival in written form as well and we always publish the last volume at the next edition.


The first concert that our listeners can hear on the radio is the one on Wednesday, May 23, performed by the Radio Chamber Orchestra. I would like you to tell me something about the program.

It's a program that I took complete responsibility for, ambitious, with only two works that belong to young composers. The opening is a sacred cantata, "The Passion of our Savior", written by Diana Simon from Bucharest, a work with five soloists and an orchestra. As you can imagine, it's like a passion, the passions of our Savior. In the second part - a chamber opera in concert, with four soloists, written by Tudor Feraru, called The Piano Teacher. It will be sung in English, but there will be a simultaneous translation projected on-screen, so the audience will be able to also understand the actual words. So, there you have it, a sacred cantata and a chamber opera in concert, from two young composers: Diana Tudor from Bucharest and Tudor Feraru from Cluj.

The conductor, himself a musician…

He is also a young musician, Sebastian Felea, who comes from Galați, but who studied in Bucharest and is a promising conductor.

A concert that, as we said, can be heard live on Radio Romania Music from 19.00. The concert of the Radio National Orchestra at the festival will be at the same time Friday. We will record the concerts performed during the International Week of New Music, but I'm going to ask you to talk about the other events broadcast from the festival as well.

At the festival we will have online streaming for the first time. It will be done from the University of Music in Alborg, Denmark, where three interpreters will perform a program featuring Romanian music, works written by young Romanian composers especially for this event, and everything will be streamed in the Opera and Multimedia Room of the National University of Music. It's the first time we're trying this. We hope it works, especially since the works written by Diana Rotaru, Sebastian Androne, Șerban Marcu, Cătălin Crețu and others are actually at their first audition.

How would you describe contemporary music today, in Romania and in the world?

Apart from the fact that temporally speaking it's written in our time, it's contemporary to us, I could say it's very, very motley, very diverse, because today the vanguard isn't what it was in the 60's or the 70's. Postmodernism has changed people's attitudes towards music. We live in a global village, almost everyone has instantaneous access to the Internet, we can compare versions of different pieces of music, listen to very different types of music, from works that stretch in space to works that stretch in time. And this versatility of the modern man, that manifests itself not just in music, but in absolutely everything, leaves its mark on contemporary mu sic as well because, in the end, music isn't separated from life, it's an expression of the life we lead. And I think that contemporary music has changed alongside the contemporary man. It's true, we still find relics of the vanguard, just as we find composers that write now in a Baroque style. Many composers who come from film music use musical styles in a very free fashion, a manner that was unthinkable in the 80's. What we do at the 28th edition is to update to what is happening right now, and this was seen last year as well, when we organized the International Composers' Forum during the Enescu Festival, where we had so many composers. Sure, during this festival we can't invited so many composers, our resources are limited, but we still invited interpreters from abroad; we have a group from Austria, they come from Germany, Switzerland, France, which means we keep our relationships with what is happening in those countries, but also the fact that I see there is a contemporary musical culture in the Romania that is alive, with dedicated interpreters and composers and, last but not least, with ensembles and institutions that care.


You are a composition professor at the National University of Music in Bucharest and I remember you always spoke about the young composers. Who are the young composers we can see during the International Week of New Music?

There are composers... I mean, it depends on how we define... there was this article… "you're a young composer 'til you're 49, after 49 you become a mature composer, after 70 - you're a maestro, after 80 - a guru" and so on, there was someone who was doing such a classification. Of course, we don't go that far, but I think there truly are some young composers under 40 who were my students, and a plethora of good composers from Cluj, Timișoara… not all of them are in the festival, but I would start with Mihai Măniceanu, Diana Rotaru, Cristian Lolea... I could say they are quite mature right now, they are young people with written works, personal styles and their own way of thinking. Under 30 we have some excellent composers, for example Mihai Murariu, Sebastian Androne, Șerban Marcu in Cluj, Alexandru Murariu in Cluj as well, Gabriel Mălăncioiu and Gabriel Almași in Timișoara. Two other very young composers at the festival are Vlad Răzvan Baciu, Bogdan Pintilie - he hasn't even finished the Conservatory yet… they are composers who are… that's what's important to know, they are both friends and dedicated interpreters. Because, look, in our festival we have an ensemble of clarinets led by Emil Vișenescu, an ensemble of ten flutes led by Ion Bogdan Ștefănescu, who are professors and have overseen works. These concerts feature works at their first audition written by the young composers and mature composers themselves - it's not only a festival for young people, you know… But I want to say there is a synergy between the mature composers, the young composers we hear and schedule and the young interpreters. Without the young interpreters, without the enthusiasm of these young new interpreters and composers, we couldn't exist.

Do the students you are working with now tend to go toward a specific genre? Do they come with certain ideas, do they insist upon a certain area?

It depends a lot on their general knowledge and cultural music they come with from high-school. Of course, many of them develop very well at university, but after that they find voices of their own and it's very important to make them understand that this vocation - I can't call it a profession - of being a composer can only be fulfilled through writing, there's no way to learn it otherwise. And this is how we motivate them. This festival, and not only this one - the Meridian Festival, the Enescu Festival as well - are, actually, forums through which we can motivate young composers to write. And how do we motivate them? We motivate them by performing their works. Of course, often we don't have the money to pay them, but it's a form of payment in itself, hearing their work, to have the Radio come and record their works, after some time to broadcast them… for them it's a very important thing to be performed. Many compose on the computer and listen on the computer, but the computer isn't true, it's not real, it's virtual. Yes, it sounds like a flute, it sounds like a clarinet, but it doesn't do it fully.

It's a bank sound that's more or less accurate.

Exactly. And so, for them it's very important to hear the works. The computer can perform anything, a human being can't, and it's very important for people of flesh and blood to hear them, colleagues who they trust and who can say "listen, you didn't write it so good here, at the top, it doesn't sound like you think and how the computer plays it for you." This sort of experience is, actually, a taste of reality and it motivates them to go forward and view the two worlds - the virtual and the real - differently.

Lastly, I would like to ask you to invite our audience to this festival.

I invite everyone interested in contemporary music to come to the concerts. Of course nobody can attend all the concerts, but of them are really worth it, and I would start with this concert offered by the Radio, performed by the Radio National Orchestra with the Radio Academic Choir, with the Radio Children's Choir - there will be a serious massing of troops on the stage of the Radio, let's hope it will be in the audience as well! - with conductor Valentin Doni, soloists Irina Iordăchescu, Geanina Munteanu, Daniel Filipescu, with actor Ion Caramitru, with Liviu Glodeanu's music and Nichita Stănescu's poems. I think this is a great event that we see, after 40 years, and which - it has to be said - owes its existence to Nicolae Teodoreanu, who died some time ago - a young man, an extraordinarily dedicated composer; it was he who told me about Glodeanu's oratorio, which hasn't been performed for 40 years and would be worth including. I listened to it, hadn't known it, and I managed programming it, with the help of the Radio, the conductor, the soloists, the choirs, the orchestra. I hope it's the crown jewel of the festival! But all the other evenings and themes are also worth watching out for.

The concert on Friday at the Radio Hall can also be heard on our frequencies starting from 19.00 and on romania-muzical.ro.

Translated by George Arion, MTTLC, An I;
Proofreading: Mihaela Ghițescu, MTTLC, An II