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The guest of the week at Perpetuum Mobile, conductor Cristian Lupeș, manager of the Sibiu State Philharmonic, in a dialogue with Gabriel Marica

Monday, 8 May 2023 , ora 10.28

Ladies and gentlemen, this eveningmy guest is conductor Cristian Lupeș, manager of the Sibiu Philharmonic. Good evening!

Good evening. Thank you forthe invitation. Greetings from abroad, from Italy.

I really wanted to ask you where you were traveling to, because we almost didn't have you around tonight. Where and why?

I spoke today because there was a problem with the flight schedule. Sometimes this schedule breaks down, but now I've arrived in Italy and from tomorrow I'm a member of the jury of a competition for musical interpretation, piano, singing, and other instrumental groups, so for a week I'll see a lot of young people and maybe why don't we choose a few of them to come during the musical seasons in Romania.

Cristian Lupeș, you said a few years ago in an interview and I quote you: "My Sibiu project is very clear, the transformation of the institution into a European operating model". Where is the Sibiu Philharmonic on this road at this moment?

Yes, that's exactly what I said. Thank you for reminding me. We're on our way. Roads with such a grip, when you imagine it, sometimes it seems easier, other times it seems harder than it is. We are still on our way. Obviously, we didn't set out unconsciously and we knew that any transformation of this type of massive institution, a cultural institution, an institution with many employees, an institution with many musical employees, with administration, an institution that is very closely related with the county council that finances us, it is a credit order. We also have a constant relationship with the Sibiu City Hall. A strongly connected institution. I imagined from the beginning that the road would not be very simple, but look, after a few years we are enjoying some notable and notorious successes. We went through the pandemic, being kind of trendsetters, and in which we managed to invent all kinds of small cultural, and artistic moments through which we could enjoy the public already scared by everything that was happening, something marked by a very honorable distinction from the president of Romania, then we enjoyed the award from Radio Romania Cultural, the music critics' award (Musicrit), therefore, our activity, which came out of the box with the help of well-thought-out programs, we are promoters of new music, promoters of Romanian music very much and we are happy to sometimes hear critics very excited about our Romanian music concerts. All these things not only changed the acoustic environment of Sibiu, but somehow I had the impression that through emulation and through the collegiality that began to appear between those who coordinate the destinies of the philharmonics in the country, this idea of taking it in a different direction with the institutions caught throughout Romania and I think that not only the philharmonic in Sibiu is modernizing, changing, transforming, but, if we look around, we can also see this in Brașov, first of all, or in Timișoara, which now also benefits from this support extraordinary to be a cultural capital, but that whole part, Oradea, Satu-Mare, Cluj is going through a transformation as well, along with Târgu-Mureș. There are already visible transformations at the Bacău Philharmonic and of course, we all know, a major change that makes us all happy is at the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest. So, in Sibiu, we strive further. I could answer simply, we are about halfway, but it is an upward route. We have to climb a slope and it is not always easy, but we can make the route easier when we are in a team and we are also with the other relevant institutions.

In this context, please tell us more about this project, the European Music Summit. What edition is it in?

Exactly as you said, we initiated this project also with the idea of a transformation and also the idea of the desire to save something. If we remember in May 2020, we were in full lockdown and we had to do something, we had to sing with distance, if you remember, we had to sing mostly outdoors and then, together with the musicians in the orchestra, together with the brave pianist, the extraordinary Sorin Petrescu and the other colleagues from the philharmonic, we imagined a musical summit in which we invited the people of Sibiu to join us in front of the philharmonic, on the Esplanade, remembering the success of the political summit that took place in Sibiu in 2019. This time, being in the pandemic, some of the colleagues ended up singing up on the roof, others down in the cellar, as we call the foyer, and then we all gathered in a concert that paid tribute to Europe, I think it was somehow called the Concert without public, but the public was free to walk down the street past us and stop. There was the first edition. The German Consulate in Sibiu also joined us and supported us a lot. We had the full support of the County Council, and we were visited by many people from Sibiu, in a sign of solidarity, we all wanted to get out of the lockdown. And then, seeing the success we had from this difficult edition, we continued with the German Consulate and the other cultural consulates we have in Sibiu and slowly we reached the 4th edition. Only this time we expanded it, we made it not just a concert, but a small festival of four musical events, and the first one starts tomorrow. Between May 4-11, we will hold several concerts involving as wide a cultural-European area as possible and at the same time bring as much audience as possible. Tomorrow we are waiting for you at Sala Thalia, the headquarters of the philharmonic together with maestro Cristian Mandeal, who conducts the Sibiu State Philharmonic Orchestra, and together with the pianist Cristian Niculescu, whom we also know with Oxana Corjos. I propose a European program, let's call it French because we have Berlioz with the Roman Carnival, easy to suspect Poulenc, the Concert for two Pianos and Suites 1 and 2 from the Arlesiana by Georges Bizet. So, let's start French to celebrate Europe.

You have a jazz concert on Sunday, am I right?

We have a very close and warm collaboration with UCIMR and together with them we bring a jazz concert, Paolo Profeti European Collective. In a Sibiu with a jazz tradition, we said that we couldn't go through the celebration of Europe without jazz, so we have the five extraordinary musicians, also at our hall, at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, May 7th. We continue, and on May 9th we are the hosts and co-producing partners of a concert that has a very charming and audience-attracting name, Symphony of Love. A concert with a project orchestra, which is called the Young Famous Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Agachi and which has as a special element the fact that Daniel David, the psychologist and rector of the University of Cluj, will present the concert and make some professional considerations, vis-à-vis the music on which we will listen to. Of course, the talented young musicians will not forget that it is also Europe Day on the same day and we will also listen to some dedicated music. The last concerts, the ones that close this extraordinary musical summit of ours, are on May 11th and 12th. On May 11, in Sibiu and on May 12th in Deva. We have the great joy of being able to stage Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, therefore dedicated to Europe, the title also supports the last part.Cristian Mandeal again at the lectern, a very special guest, coming from Radio Romania, the Academic Radio Choir, directed by Ciprian Țuțu, will support the choral part and soloists one by one, Diana Țugui, Antonela Bârnat, Florin Guzgă and Bala Sandor-baritone, in a concert, which - as I said - we are doubling, on the 11th at the Thalia Hall in Sibiu and on the 12th, the fourth edition of the summit in a row, we are doubling the concert in Deva with the help of the Deva town hall and the Center Cultural Drăgan Muntean, where we enjoy a long-term partnership.

This European music summit is very interesting. So, between May 4th-12th in Sibiu and Deva. What milestones does the Sibiu Philharmonic have until the end of this season, if you can tell us a few?

As I said before, we build our season with a few points, we polarize certain events every month and if in January we think about the Day of Culture and in February about a Valentine's Day carnival, remember that in May everything revolves around Europe Day, and in June we are thinking about children, with dedicated concerts, we will have a concert together with soloists chosen from those who study at the art high school in Sibiu together with our orchestra and a young conductor from Sibiu, but in June we really enjoy some extraordinary guests, Tito Ceccherini is coming and Alessandro Crudele is also coming, two extraordinary conductors whom I have met in different situations, Ceccherini also conducted an Enescu festival.Then in July we arrive at the 20th edition of the Romanian-American Music Days festival, which we do in partnership with the United States embassy, which sends us a band of military musicians and in which the repertoire also oscillates between jazz and symphonic, but look, this time, I don't even know if I'm allowed to tell you, but I'm telling you, the very beautiful project made by Marin Cazacu and his cellists will come, it will be done in Bucharest. The 100 cellists on the stage of the Athenaeum. We managed to convince them, and the next day they will stop in the big square in Sibiu and have the same concert, which you can imagine, will be an extraordinary center of attraction.After the Romanian-American Music Days, which comes as soon as the international theater festival ends, where we are also invited and have a dedicated day, we will have another long-running festivalcompetition Carl Filtsch, which pays tribute to the local composer, where the founding director is Csiky Boldizsar and we will continue the competition with a few recitals from the audience, then in August, we will invite you to probably our most successful festival, Concert on the roof and up on the roof of the philharmonic, at sunset, we have approx. 12 concerts, in which we will also sing opera mini-recitals, but we will also have jazz, we will also have Ada Milea, we will also have a band of high school rockers, we will be very eclectic, but we noticed that the audience loves it there, on the roof, up at sunset, precisely this diversity.

As a conductor, Cristian Lupeș, where and when can you be seen on stage? I know you recently conducted the orchestra in Sanremo, correct?

Yes, I recently went to San Remo and was also happy to meet a contemporary piece by a composer, Luppi. In the near future, I think I will meet Csiky Boldizsar with a Gershwin, and after that, I will return to Italy to Cosenza. My activity has become less, I could say, I have reduced the number of concerts a bit since I am the manager of the philharmonic because it is a very sustained job and then I have to be careful how I balance the managerial and the artistic activity, but thank you for the question. If I had more time I would go to more places, but now it's good, I managed to find a balance, at first it wasn't very easy for me.

I imagine. I wish you and your colleagues success and this European Music Summit which starts tomorrow. I hope it will be crowned with success and as much audience as possible in the concert halls or where you will have events.

The idea ignited so strongly that other cultural institutions from Sibiu joined us and I must tell you that the Astra Museum also joins our summit with some events, the Astra library, with which we have a very good relationship, even the Junes of Sibiu or the Popular Art School come with an event each, and we managed to fill this European week in Sibiu with events from all possible cultural areas in the city.

Interview by Gabriel Marica
Translated by Georgiana-Carmen Rădulescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu