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Cellist Cornelius Zirbo, winner of the Musical Romania’s Heirs scholarship, in dialogue with Gabriel Marica at Perpetuum Mobile

Wednesday, 2 June 2021 , ora 16.12

Ladies and gentlemen, as I have promised earlier, cellist Cornelius Zirbo is on the phone with us. Good evening.

Good evening. Glad to hear you!

Congratulations. You are the newly designated scholarship holder of Musical Romania's Heirs. How do you feel in this position?

I feel incredible. It was absolutely amazing news for me. It is a great chance to be a scholarship holder within the Musical Romania's Heirs competition and I am in an excellent state of mind at the moment.

We are happy for you. Last year you were a finalist of the scholarship. You didn't get it then, but it happened this year. What do you think impressed the jury this time?

I certainly had enough time in one year to grow, to improve myself, to undertake new musical projects and, of course, being more motivated than last year, I participated again, things went well and I am the happy winner of the scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded for supporting a project related to your professional development. In your case, which is it?

Participating in masterclasses and mastery courses represents a priority for me. I presented to the jury a series of important, reference masterclasses, with recognized musicians such as Frans Helmerson, Gary Hofmann and many others, and this is one of the targets of my project. I am also in the process of purchasing a bow that will help me in my performance, so that's what my project consisted of.

I hope the 4,000 euros that you will receive will help you carry out your projects as soon as possible, but besides the money, you will give, within the grant, a recital at the Radio Hall, am I right?

That is true. I am looking forward to it.

Last year you gave a recital at the Radio Hall during the pandemic, a recital within the Pink Concerts organized by Radio Romania Muzical. How was the experience of performing in an empty hall, for a virtual audience, for you and your friend, pianist Gabriel Gîțan?

For me, that experience in October was delightful, as I had the occasion, right before the recital, to do some special recordings, thanks to Radio Romania Muzical. After that week of recordings we had the opportunity to include the program in this concert. Sure enough, after we concentrated on fragments, on details and musical subtleties, we managed to perform it in a recital at the end of the week, and it rewarded our work. Even if the audience was virtual, as you said, the fact that we were able to perform in a hall with such beautiful acoustics, and that we executed the whole program was really beautiful and special for us. I often remember that concert with Gabriel Gîțan.

The special recordings you realized together have already entered the radio's sound archive. We hope that your next recital at the Radio Hall is to take place with a hall full of people, and that you feel the applause of the audience. Cornelius, I noticed something in your CV that cannot be overlooked, namely the fact that you are interested in social projects. Where did it come from? And, as far as I know, you have been to Namibia, right?

Yes. I have just returned from Africa, Namibia, which is a country in the south of the African continent. Besides my musical career, I hope and I like to believe that I am interested in the lives of the people around me, and I like to focus on that too, not just on myself. Since January, I have been away in the middle of the desert for three months, where I had the chance to live amid a very underprivileged and impoverished community. I am talking about the San tribe, and I had the opportunity to spend time with them, to teach them. I was a volunteer teacher. I taught them English and we carried out many musical and artistic activities together, and for me it was a period that fulfilled my soul and it is certainly one of the experiences I would repeat anytime.

Therefore, let's say you are leaving again. Also to an exotic country?

I would like it very much. I'm not sure yet, but I would love to repeat this experience.

Cornelius, let's go back to your musical activity and I will ask you to tell us where you can be seen on stage in the next period. If I am not mistaken, I even bothered you from a rehearsal to have this interview. What are you preparing?

We are currently rehearsing with a cello ensemble in Cluj-Napoca, my hometown, a very interesting concert with diverse pieces from all musical eras. The next period is occupied by the exam session at the university, so I can't anticipate any concert in the next three weeks. However, after these three weeks I am preparing for a very important audition in France, for an instrument. I have some masterclasses abroad, in Portugal, and concerts at the same time. I do not know about our country. Nothing is settled yet.

Anyway, it is established that you will perform at the Radio Hall in a recital, because, isn't it, you are the newly designated scholarship holder of Musical Romania's Heirs. Congratulations again for the scholarship, Cornelius Zirbo.

Thank you very much.

Interview by Gabriel Marica
Translated by Lica Alexandra,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu