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Interview with pianist Bogdan Vaida, initiator of the Classic Unlimited project

Monday, 16 October 2023 , ora 10.57

The "Classic Unlimited" National Piano Tournament reaches its 7th edition this year. We learn about the unconventional spaces that will host the concerts and more from the initiator of the project, the pianist Bogdan Vaida, in an interview conducted by Sarah Natsis:

Mr. Bogdan Vaida, the 7th edition of the "Classic Unlimited" Tournament will take place until October 28th. In the 6 tours organized so far, you have presented classical music in more than 50 unconventional venues in the country and abroad. You chose coal mines, bookstores, furniture factories, and more. What is the criterion that guides you when choosing such places?

The criterion that makes me choose the places where we do the concerts is a very simple one - we go wherever curiosity guides us and where we feel the desire of the local people to listen to music, to host a concert, to welcome us.

From the beginning of the project, I never looked for eccentric or spectacular places, but I looked for people who want to listen to music. Of course we can't go everywhere, mostly for logistical reasons, but where we feel people are happy to welcome us and, especially, enjoy the music, we try to go.

The central idea of this year's edition is Rhapsody in Blue. How did you think about the composition of the program so as to intertwine classical music and jazz in a harmonious way?

The theme of this year's program is "The influence of jazz music on classical music" and Rhapsody in Blue, the well-known piece of the American composer George Gershwin, is the center of the program. Then, I also included another American composer, Aaron Copland and some pieces from the classical repertoire by Schubert and Pavana by George Enescu. And then, three pieces by young composers from Cluj, whom we asked to compose a piece each, as they wish, with the idea of jazz. What came out can be heard at the concert. I say it's a very interesting, positive program, it's music that brings something good, cheerful to a world that, especially now, I think needs something like that.

The portfolio of the "Classic Unlimited" project counts up to now 65 concerts attended by thousands of people. You initiated the project out of the desire to make classical music more accessible to the general public, after noticing that concert halls are predominantly attended by elderly people. Do you feel a change in the audience? Are young people more interested in such events?

I say yes. What I wanted to do was not necessarily to make classical music more accessible to people, but just to show people what fascinates me in classical music concretely, and I believed that music is for all people, not only for those who have a certain education or who are in the habit of going to concert halls. And then, I also wanted to do concerts in places that don't intimidate anyone, where they don't feel obliged to go with a certain outfit or with certain prejudices - that was the idea. At the "Classic Unlimited" concerts there are both old and young people, there are also classical music connoisseurs, there are also people who probably come to a concert for the first time, which I think is very cool.

Where will the next concerts on the tour schedule take place?

This week we go to Colonia Pictorilor from Baia Mare - a very neat place, a place where art feels like home. Then we go for the second time to the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and the Resistance in Sighetu Marmatiei. We had a concert there last year; it's a place with incredible energy, a place that should be visited by all Romanians who have the opportunity. It is a very important place for our history as a people and for us as people.

Then we will have another one at the Botanical Garden in Jibou, also a very cool place, where we had a concert 2-3 years ago. And finally, in Cluj, at home, in a place where we were invited by some friends, to Zazen. The concert on October 28 will be at the Cultural Palace in Blaj.

Interview by Sarah Natsis
Translated by Cosmin Ionuț Petriea,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu