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Interview with Verona Maier about the 14th edition of the “Chei” Festival

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 , ora 13.44

The 14th edition of the "Chei" Festival, organized by the National University of Music Bucharest, will take place between the 13th and 19th of March. Verona Maier, professor and prorector within the University of Music will give us more details about the festival's events.

This year the opening concert will be held at the Romanian Athenaeum, not at the National University of Music Bucharest, as Leo Hussain will conduct the "Universitaria" Orchestra. Let us talk a little bit about this change. How did you decide on this break in tradition, so to say?

This is actually a return to tradition, because the opening concerts of the eleven editions that preceded the pandemic were held at the Romanian Athenaeum one year and at Sala Radio the next. These two, the most important radio venues in Bucharest, offered to host our opening event alternately. It's true that there also were some years we wish to reproduce within our festival, years in which we held a concert at the Athenaeum, and then another one at Sala Radio. In the end, these are the institutions towards which we direct our good and very good students, who slowly become important parts in the Romanian Radio Orchestras, in the "George Enescu" Philharmonic Orchestra, or in the two choirs - the The Romanian Radio Academic Choir and the "George Enescu" Philharmonic Choir, which are the most prestigious bands of their kind in the country.

So, this year's opening concert is truly just a return to tradition, as I mentioned earlier. The "George Enescu" Philharmonic Orchestra will take part also thanks to the fact that maestro Leo Hussain managed to find a bit of time in-between two weeks of concerts with the philharmonic to work with our student orchestra. Maestro Marin Cazacu, the current director of the philharmonic, who found Monday, March 13th, to be the day in which we could use the Athenaeum's solicited external spaces, produced this concert.

There also are multiple marathons for the public. Is that the theme of this edition?

This is a theme we proposed in previous years as well, each time there was a need for it. After this pandemic period, our students are extremely eager to perform in front of the audience, and we thought it was very important to respond to their eagerness by providing them not with the usual concert space with a schedule of 1 or 2 hours, breaks included, but with a more generous space that would fit as many students, who were otherwise selected (we organized a selection at the University), and would allow them to perform shorter moments too, in order to showcase not only their professional level, but especially their joy of meeting the audience live again.

I want us to find a little bit more about the round-table in which you discuss the National University of Music Bucharest projects?

Like any serious academic institution in Romania, the National University of Music Bucharest put forth in 2022 proposals for seven of the funding opportunities offered by the Ministry of National Education, besides the core funding. We proposed 7 diverse projects, which will bring things to our university that we couldn't otherwise afford. All 7 projects for the 7 funding opportunities (1 project for each funding opportunity) were deemed convincing by the Ministry and we were granted the financing for these projects. The round-table wants to present to those who are interested the elements that made the 7 projects successful, and contributed a lot to university life.

I whole heartedly hope that the opening concert I mentioned, the first act of The Magic Flute, the lied concert on the morning of the last festival day, which will be performed thanks to a generous partnership with the Bucharest National Opera House, the music composition students' concert, the choir concert… all these events, together with the marathons you mentioned, will bring the audience to our institution, because we are convinced that our role is to open ourselves to those whose life can become more beautiful through the music we know, learn, and strive to perform even better.

Interview by Petre Fugaciu
Translated by Ioana-Diana Sandu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu