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“It's like a dream”
İlkin Alpay, winner of the 2016 Siemens Opera Contest in Istanbul, performs at Carnegie Hall in New York. With the Siemens Opera Contest the company offers young talents the chance to enter the opera world in cooperation with the Siemens culture-partners, such as Salzburg Festival, the Bavarian State Opera, the National Opéra Paris and Carnegie Hall.
Music - promoting excellence
Classical music has featured prominently in our work since the program's inception. At the same time, we are also committed to supporting productions that feature contemporary forms of musical expression. Against this background we initiate dance performances and sound experiments as well as musical productions and classical concerts.
An important aim of our activities is to nurture the next generation of creative talent around the world. We do this through our own competitions for aspiring artists (e.g. Siemens Opera Contest) and by forging links between new talents and established international cultural institutions (Carnegie Hall New York, Opera Garnier Paris, Bavarian State Opera, Salzburg Festival).
Full of self-confidence, conductor Marie Jacquot steps out in front of the orchestra. Violinist Sarah Christian can sense her fellow musicians behind her, while Fabian Müller at the piano is calm personified. Three “newcomers” are introducing themselves to an orchestra. And not just any orchestra, but the Bavarian State Orchestra, and not at just any venue, but New York’s Carnegie Hall.
ARD Music Competition Finalists Featured at Carnegie Hall in New York01:08 min
In March 27 the Siemens Arts Program initiates a concert between debutants and virtuoso musicians from the international music world. The Bavarian State Orchestra – the orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera – accompanies the winners of the ARD Music Competition 2017, Sarah Christian (violin) and Fabian Müller (piano) at Carnegie Hall in New York. Conductor Marie Jacquot fronts the evening concert.
Making their debut at Carnegie Hall is an accolade for the young musicians, and during their interviews, the three artistes report on their collaboration with the Bavarian State Orchestra.
Ms. Jacquot, could you describe for us how it feels to conduct an ensemble like the Bavarian State Orchestra? Just routine or an unnerving experience?
“Neither routine nor unnerving! As I assisted Mr. Petrenko on “South Pole” in 2016, I am already familiar with many faces in the orchestra. I look forward to meeting the musicians again and getting to know them better, as well making the acquaintance of other members of the orchestra. It is of course always an honor to have the chance to be able to work with musicians of such a caliber. It is a special opportunity, and a shared responsibility to be able to serve the composer and their art even more effectively.”
The Siegfried Idyll, like many of Wagner’s works, strikes many people as being dominated by maleness. Despite its subtlety. So as the conductor, what sort of perspective do you bring to a piece like this?
“Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll is a particularly intimate work, full of deep personal sentiments. With everything from tender, flowing moments, landscapes painted through the music, highly pleasant feelings, right up to the expression of the utmost passion. At every moment, Richard Wagner succeeds in captivating the musicians and audience alike in such a way that they all have no other choice than to immerse themselves in his world. As conductor, I try to convey the emotions in the music through my own life experiences, without my feelings being front and center, but rather helping me to serve a greater purpose.
Having composed the work to mark the 33rd birthday of his wife Cosima and in memory of the birth of their son Siegfried, Wagner was long reluctant to publish the piece. It was intended always to retain its special intimacy, always to sound as if nobody in the room should actually be allowed to hear it. This highly personal declaration of love is one of the most beautiful in music. It is the calm and stillness between the notes that moves us so.”
It is impossible to state definitively whether men or women approach music in different ways. What is certain is that since the days of Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn, it is not only woman conductors but also their instrumentalist counterparts who are subject to particular pressure. As someone who ranks among the most talented female violinists of her generation, how does Sarah Christian cope with the pressure?
“Firstly, I try not to put myself under so much pressure. I tend to shy away from seeing myself in this way and I can be hard on myself. For me, the most important thing is quite simply the music. Not me. So when I go on stage I am there to convey the music, and do not see myself as being at the center of things,” says Sarah Christian.
In truth, what sounds so simple here is a challenge for every “performer” – and that applies in industry too. Major deals are often accompanied by a degree of nervousness. The young violinist explains her method.
“If I am nervous, I try to imagine the composer standing in front of me as a “shield”, so to speak, and that I am playing through them. I believe there are many professions where it helps to concentrate on the matter at hand or the greater purpose and not to regard oneself as being too significant - in today’s era of Facebook et al, this is sometimes no easy task,” continues Sarah Christian.
No less of a task is the interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto, though it is also an opportunity afforded to this exceptional pianist by the Siemens Arts Program – an opportunity granted to few musicians.
Fabian Müller relates: “A year or so ago, I heard the Bavarian State Opera in concert with Frank Peter Zimmermann, and was absolutely overwhelmed by their quality and enthusiasm for the music. The fact that I now have the possibility of playing with these musicians is the most exciting and inspiring opportunity I can imagine. And furthermore at Carnegie Hall, a venue that has held such a mystical, magical aura for me since my childhood, to the extent that I am only now certain that it actually exists having set foot over the threshold.”
Müller is full of enthusiasm.
Siemens is that, too: an enabler, a catalyst for the careers of the creative and talented.
The Siemens Opera Contest is a professional singing competition for the best young singers. In 2018, the contest will celebrate its 20th anniversary at its place of origin in Istanbul/Turkey. 2017 the contest took also place in France for the first time.