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Mihai Cojocaru – Guest of the Week at Perpetuum mobile

Monday, 7 February 2022 , ora 12.07

"George Enescu" Philharmonic continues the 2021-2022 season with two concerts held on February 3rd and 4th, 2022 by the symphony ensemble of the institution and the Canadian conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe. The soloist will be a musician with an activity closely related to the Bucharest Philharmonic - pianist Andrei Licareț. This is where Lucian Haralambie's dialogue with Mihai Cojocaru, artistic advisor at the "George Enescu" Philharmonic and the Guest of the Week at Perpetuum mobile, started. He also offered us more information about the other concerts that will be organized this year, at the Romanian Athenaeum:

The first concerts in February during the season of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic bring in front of the public the pianist Andrei Licareț and the conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe. What is the programme for the events of February 3rd and 4th?

That's right, at the beginning of this month we have two concerts, at the Romanian Athenaeum as usual, on Thursday and Friday, along with the artists mentioned. In the first part, Johannes Brahms's Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra will be performed, with Andrei Licareț - a quite experienced philharmonic musician, as a soloist. And then the Canadian conductor Charles Olivieri-Munroe will perform a unique symphony by Jan Hugo Voűíček, a Czech composer from the early 19th century, Beethoven's contemporary, and who by the way composed in a very Beethoven-like style. Charles Olivieri-Munroe is a well-known international conductor who has established his base, as he himself states, in Central Europe - being very active especially in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland; in Kraków, Prague, and Bratislava, both in the symphonic and opera fields. In fact, more than ten years ago, he was on the short list of conductors who could have become principal conductors at the Philharmonic. It was not to be, but we are glad that after a quite long break he is back on the Athenaeum stage.

What does the programme of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic for the whole month of February look like?

February can be said to be under the sign of the philharmonic musicians, because, besides Andrei Licareț, a well-known Romanian pianist of the already mature generation and employee of our institution, on February 10th - 11th, another member of the orchestra, Emil Vișenescu - an equally well-known clarinettist, with a career spanning several decades from the position of a soloist, and what is more now as a conductor, will perform Mozart's Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, under the baton of Gian Luigi Zampieri. And at the end of February, another soloist from the top band of the philharmonic, Ion Bogdan Ștefănescu - a flutist who needs no presentation for the music lovers - will play along with conductor Tiberiu Soare Carl Nielsen's Concerto, a work that, again, is performed a little less often.

Mihai Cojocaru, what other musicians will perform on the stage of the Romanian Athenaeum until the end of the current season?

As for the concerts of the season, we have a relatively clear picture. I must say that the chamber season is, unfortunately, suffering at the moment, as the year that has just begun has also brought with itself those expenses that are both for individuals and for institutions a nuisance that is talked about on all channels. These expenses are maintenance-related and cause severe financial constraints that prevent us from organizing the chamber season as we would have liked. From my modest position, all I can do is to draw the attention to this situation, which is reminiscent of some gloomy times that we thought were long gone, those in which the halls were cold and badly lit.

In what regards the symphonic season, however, we try to keep the standards of musical, artistical, cultural quality in general, that "George Enescu" Philharmonic is proud of and that it seeks to preserve, so we try to have as varied programmes as possible, with well-known artists. For example, in March, one of the three principal conductors of the Philharmonic, Gabriel Bebeșelea, will have as a soloist a great international violinist, Sayaka Shoji, who will perform the Concerto for violin and orchestra by Schumann.

Then, on April 7th - 8th, Daniel Ciobanu, the first artist in residence of the Philharmonic, proposes a totally unique concert, with an absolute first audition of a work commissioned from composer Dan Dediu, for reciter, piano and chamber orchestra. He will be joined by the actress Isabel Karajan, the daughter of the legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan, and a great Austrian actress who is happy to appear for the first time on a stage in Romania. This concert also has the special merit that it will be recorded by the ARTE channel, and excerpts from the recording will be used in a documentary about Romanian music.

Then, if we go to the end of the season, that is in May, at the beginning, we will include in our season, on May 5th - 6th, some concerts that are part of an international cello festival, in which the soloist Andrei Ioniță - one of the stars of current Romanian classical music - will appear. And the end of the season is reserved for the principal conductors. Apart from Gabriel Bebeșelea, Cristian Badea of course, and the new principal conductor Leo Hussain from Great Britain, a renowned conductor of the young generation, who also appeared in the "George Enescu" Festival at the rostrum of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic. And let's hope, to close the season on an optimistic, solid note that will give us hope for a better artistic future.

Outside the current season, what are the projects of "George Enescu" Philharmonic?

As it may be known, there are a number of conferences hosted by the Philharmonic. In May, again, the Humanitas Conferences will take place, organized together with Humanitas Publishing House, with great personalities from various cultural, economic, intellectual fields in general, with great performances, and which appear in dialogue with different personalities from our country on current topics.

Apart from that, as I said, we are a bit stuck in terms of chamber projects, but we hope to overcome the various limitations and to keep our chamber recitals in which the philharmonic musicians perform - string quartet recitals, solo recitals, both in the Great Hall and in the Small Hall.

Speaking of the Small Hall, the Tuesday Evening Season, which is organized in collaboration with Radio România Muzical, continues with great success and presents each week a young Romanian artist or groups of artists who are building a career in the country or abroad and who are then recorded by Radio România Muzical.

Furthermore, the educational season continues - Classic is fantastic - in which different orchestras or chamber groups present certain topics of interest to the young and very young generations, introductory to the world of music… a hall that, as much as the current pandemic conditions allow, is always full.

And because you talked about the presence in the hall, in the end, do you have a message for the audience of the Bucharest Philharmonic?

Yes. The message is that "George Enescu" Philharmonic, like the other musical institutions, continues to exist, continues to fight for a good quality culture and art, and that, just like before the pandemic, we are expecting people to come and to discover our concerts and projects and, thus, to have a few moments of peace, of reflection, of joy and of spiritual fulfilment, in a time that does not offer too many such moments.

Translated by Ecaterina Bucovanu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu