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Tradition and novelty at the Young Talent Festival in Râmnicu Vâlcea, May 14th-15th 2023

Monday, 22 May 2023 , ora 11.00

Director Petruț Constantinescu, using your personal magic, so to speak, you have managed to mobilize the most important companies in Valcea, to convince them to support the "Young Talents" Festival, now in its 43rd edition. At last night's concert, on the evening of May 14th, we also noticed a lot of advertising posters on stage demonstrating this. But I would like to ask you now, what qualities should a successful manager have?

Yes... for the first time in the history of this festival, we had an impressive number of supporters on stage, also present through these rollups, a very elegant and civilized marketing tool. But the main supporter remains the City Hall of Râmnicu-Vâlcea, which provides practically the entire budget of this festival. Our enthusiastic partners, I don't like the term "sponsor" very much, have supported us and are supporting us in complementarity with our authorising officer, it is practically a symbiosis that is beginning to take shape in smaller towns.

Basically, this 43rd edition of the festival was a gift that you offered to the public of Valcea, especially since the entrance was completely free... a remarkable thing!

It is true, but for many years, the City Hall of Râmnicu-Vâlcea has taken on this festival and has helped us, and our enthusiastic partners that I was talking about, come to complete the inherent needs of a cultural institution. And in the end, all this support helps the values present on the festival stage.

You should know that I don't particularly have a magic recipe, I can only tell you that the education I received from my family, the exceptional teachers I had, and the acquired knowledge that over the years settles down, are in fact the recipe you were referring to. But all of this would not have been possible without some reliable helpers who understand the phenomenon of music, it is the will to understand. And I would like to make a brief parenthesis, probably the greatest achievement of the last few years of this institution is the appearance, from 10 May, on the stage of the "Ion Dumitrescu" Philharmonic, of the new Petrof Mistral concert piano. It is the only Petrof Mistral piano in Romania at the moment, and I would love to hear that other institutions will be able to purchase such an instrument.

All these things would not have been possible without the understanding of the authorities, in this case the Mayor Mircia Gutău, who signed this purchase. It is a fabulous step for our city, I would like to say that our piano is the most expensive heritage object that the city owns, because, as we know, works of art belong to the museum heritage and not to the city heritage and then, in fact, this object of art and culture, can be considered an emblem of the city, just as the Philharmonic Institution is an emblem.

We have managed to bring all these forces together because the young people who come to this stage are increasingly motivated. This year we have something new, we want to come up with something new every year, something that will motivate the young participants as much as possible.

How have you structured the two days of the Festival, May 14th and 15th? And I'd like you to define which elements have already become tradition and which are new?

The tradition of this festival is that the first day is the day of recitals and on the morning of the first day, the students of the Art High School of Râmnicu Vâlcea will be the hosts, to open the festival, because the high school is also one of our partners. We wanted very much to color and to come up with better and better things, that's why this year we took out the lyrical part from the evening recitals, in the sense that in the gala, on May 15th, after the two soloists' performance, we have two concerts, one for piano and orchestra, traditionally the piano is not missing from the gala, then a concert for violin and orchestra - so after the soloists, the singing class of Professor Georgeta Stoleriu, from the National University of Music in Bucharest, comes to the gala and sings with orchestral accompaniment, which is a novelty because, until last year, this happened with piano accompaniment.

Returning to the first evening of recitals, the "Remember Enescu" Foundation, elegantly managed by Professor Mihaela Tomescu, came again with very good students and we could also consider this a tradition.

But also the president of the festival, the distinguished lady doctor, pianist, musicologist Ilinca Dumitrescu, came this year with a significant contribution following the organization of a national competition "Ion Dumitrescu". With the support of the School Inspectorate of the Municipality of Bucharest, the School of Music No. 4 in Bucharest organizes this annual competition, which awards prizes to the most talented young people. Mrs Ilinca Dumitrescu offered us this year, as president of the "Young Talents" Festival and of the "Ion Dumitrescu" Competition, a recital of the six, the best of those who won distinctions and prizes at the competition. So, another element of novelty that somehow creates a competitive environment, without the "Young Talents" Festival being a competition. And this year we had young people, in addition to those from Râmnicu Vâlcea in the opening, from Pitești, Buzău, București, Iași, București, Brașov, Cluj, I hope I have listed them all.

It is remarkable the willingness of young people to take the stage of the longest-running festival of cult music organized for young people in Romania.

You have thus conveyed to me, between the lines, that you have somehow touched on the educational dimension of the "Young Talents" Festival, an education that you have been doing practically for years, and I would like to ask you if you have also seen results over time, if you have been able to follow these results that are certainly appearing?

Without question, the mission of the philharmonic institution is patrimonial, civilizing and, last but not least, educational. This means that we have to leave something behind, and to be able to leave something of value that people remember but also respect, you have to build. Of course, all this building is done with great difficulty, with great effort, and with constant trying, it is a persuasion that not only the manager needs but also the young participants, and the teachers. May I say that every year, we make a diplomatic remark to the teachers of the art high schools, and not only to the teachers of the art high schools, because unfortunately, very often, they do not come to the concerts of the philharmonic, to the theatre, to the exhibitions and especially to the "Young Talents" Festival where they should accompany the students, to persuade them to come in the greatest number, even if their student was not selected to participate then.

On the educational side, we make a very rigorous selection about two months before the festival, and one of the conditions for participation in this festival, precisely because everything is free, everything is, so to speak, at the expense of the institution, the only condition, of course apart from being competitive, is that the young people attend the concerts of the philharmonic. Here we are, we are slowly raising awareness and our hope is that every year a few more people will be added to this core.

All these things are built with great difficulty and effort... On Sunday evening, instead of going to the mall or fast food, for an hour, an hour and a half, we have to give up all this, especially since the "Young Talents" Festival is only once a year, and come to a philharmonic hall, to see who are the most talented young people in Romania at the moment.

I want to underline the fact that your philharmonic is the only one in Romania that promotes young people. You are implicitly concerned with the future of music, the future of Romanian performing arts. So the mission has much deeper connotations. That's why I would ask you if the public understands this, if you have signals from the public that they understand your mission, that they understand what you are doing?

I would like to be as fair as possible and tell you that, in recent years, a philharmonic in our neighbourhood, our friends from Pitesti, also have a festival for young people, I think they have been doing this for three or four years. It's probably an echo from Râmnicu Vâlcea. I'd love to see it, I really encourage them. And at "Ion Dumitrescu" the Râmnicu Vâlcea Philharmonic, even if it is not the only one, is certainly the promoter of this phenomenon and encourages very much the real talents and you know that the audience is very receptive.

We have had and have promoted over the seasons and continue to promote many young people. I realize that we are appreciated primarily by the impressive number of proposals we receive from young instrumentalists, but also from young conductors. This also comes from the visibility we have created for ourselves, and the public is an extraordinary barometer because we are beginning to give up this habotnic traditionalism, in the sense that there are tributaries, whom of course we cannot accuse, who appreciate only the great models, the great values, I am referring to the great soloists and conductors who visit us regularly. But even they are beginning to understand that one condition for great music to live is to allow these young people to come and show their qualities and their interpretative and, why not, intellectual mastery. Above all, a true musician is fulfilled when he understands what he plays. And then he will not only play technically flawlessly, but will also convey an intellectual message that his listeners need.

Lately, I have noticed an increasing openness on the part of the public towards these young people, and I can tell you that I have seen several concerts where the young people who have come and played accompanied by our symphony orchestra have proposed works that are not yet known, and I am not necessarily talking about modernism, I am talking about pre-classics, works that the big names have not tackled, and here young people are eager to discover and play great works, from the baroque to the present. And the audience was very receptive.

Of course there are philharmonics in the country that also have new music festivals and it's very good that this is happening, because art is made by comparison. But we are on the side of young people who want to come to Râmnicu Vâlcea and we are waiting for them unconditionally!

Interview by Laura Ana Mânzat
Translated by Andreea Iulia Ciucă,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu