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News vom 15.07.2008

'Classic meets Jazz' / 'Andrei meets Eyran' / 'Russia meets America' experienced by a classical pianist

Diesen Text bitte in deutscher Sprache

Introduction from the program written by the Kulturring Peine on the occasion of the concert in the Forum in Peine on October 12th, 2007:Andrei Ivanovitch
Andrei Ivanovitch (St. Petersburg),
great-grandson of the fameous Romanian composer Ion Ivanovitch (By the Beautiful Danube), studied at the famous Central Music Scool, at the Leningrad Conservatory, at the Music Academy in Moscow und at the Musical College in Karlsruhe.
He won several prices in international comepetitions, amongst others he won the gold medal at the „World Piano Competition” in Cincinnati/Ohio/USA.
The specialised press compares him to Dinu Lipatti and Arturo Benedetti-Michelangeli. Since 2003, he is honorary member of the Chopin Society. His numerous concerts in Europe earned him the reputation of being one of the great Interpreters of Russian piano music. The candian film „Glen Gould. Russian Journey” with Ivanovitch interpreting „The Art of Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach was awarded with the Grand at the International Film Festival in Montreal. During his Germany tours he always gave guest performances at Hummer's Culture Parlour in Soßmar (with whoms owner Herhard Hummer he's freinds for several years), which made him a great following in this region.

Franz Liszt: La Campanella

www.sossmar.de:One year ago, we already planned interviewing you, but due to technical and time problems we didn’t manage to do it. Therefore we also want to focus a bit on the past concerts.
www.sossmar.de:Andrei - how did you start making music? Was it your family who „made” you or was their some kind of magical attraction?
Andrei:It was rather a magical attraction. When you look at our family’s photo albums you will find pictures of the 5 or 6 month old Andrei with a small piano.
I consciously remember one situation: My sister, who is eight years older than me, had to take piano lessons because she was a scholar of the Waganowa Ballet School in Saint Petersburg. Therefore my mother bought her a piano. Now that I could touch the instrument, the first relationship was established. My mother soon heard that I exactly and clearly repeated what my sister had played before and she realized that I had a gift.
From that moment on, I only remember the little boy Andrei who wanted to become a pianist.
A precious souvenir from that time is my cardboard fingerboard. My mother painted white and black keys on a cardboard. When I was ill, even in hospital, I could take this fingerboard and practice on it.
I still got this hinged fingerboard!
www.sossmar.de:As you started not only having fun making music, was it clear to you that you would make a career and changed your life knowingly or did it somehow just happen to you?
Andrei:Life’s never really clear to oneself – at least not in everyday life. But inside I was always sure what I wanted to be, I just didn’t knew how. That didn't bother me, because I believe that the Lord is guiding me and I only do what is expected from me. The rest just simply adjusts without me having to care about it and therefore one can say that „everything just simply happened”.
By the way, I heard this question very often. Everybody dreams of a successful career and do a lot of thing just for their career’s sake. I pursuit the truth inside the music, and if I „make a career” while doing that, that’s okay.
Certainly, there are some things you have to do for your path of life: cultivate contacts to concert managements, find an agent, find places where you can perform, develop ideas and conceptions and so on. But that’s secondary, just means to an end.
You must always remember that and never lose track of your life’s real pursuit. People who only think of their careers lose their roots and they lose the meaning of their work.
www.sossmar.de:From today's perspective: Do you like the way you have chosen - would you take the same decisions again or are there some things you would like to change?
Andrei:I think that everybody is chosen to follow a certain path. You just have to recognize it for yourself. I believe that I recognized or rather sensed mine and that I already did so as a child.
Did I miss things – what would I change? Those things I would like to change have nothing to do with music. These things more likely regard beloved people. Afterwards you often realize that you don’t have done all you could. You think that someday you will make everything right. But that’s not always possible especially when those people leave you or die.
Nobody is perfect!
www.sossmar.de:You have a 3-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Do you wish them to make a music career or do you already have made some preparations?
Andrei:I’d never ever force my children into something. A child carries its own mission inside, a task or sometimes even more than one. I don’t want to bar it from that.
If, for example, there’s no piano in the house, I bar my child from music or if there’s no paper or pencils I bar the child from drawing.
To do nothing means to bar.
www.sossmar.de:Do your schools at home have music classes? What do you think about early music education? Do you think we will have problems getting trained musicians?
Andrei:From the first year in school our children have got music lessons, but there are no predetermined syllabi. What the children learn depends very much on the teacher and his preferences. I think that a syllabus would be reasonable.
Of course we also have music schools that the children could attend in the after-noon. There they can learn how to play an instrument or take vocal lessons.
I think that early music education is very important. When you make music together, you learn non-verbal communication which might be even more important than verbal communication. Music teaches us sympathy, and it’s a big difference if you have or have not learned how to sympathize. Music lessons are the beginning of all that.
I don’t think that we will have problems getting trained musicians. We have a lot of talented people. It is only a generation gap. The next generation again is totally different. First and foremost, that’s because we are living in a century of computers. Nowadays, music‘s regarded in a different way. Lang-Lang for example was made a pop star. The music's concept is changed: There's not much place left for philosophy. These pop stars are merchandized like brands – and that’s a totally different way of thinking.
These musicians are no longer artists, they are cogs that have to turn perfectly within the wheelwork.
www.sossmar.de:Andrei – you studied in Karlsruhe. At that time, had you already met the typical „North Germans”?
Andrei:This question is not a simple one. Of course, there were people from Northern Germany at my university, but I only got to know them in the last six years.
To me, North Germans are the inhabitants of the Hanseatic Cities and therefore remind me very much of the people in Saint Petersburg. This breed is very near to me.
But one thing here is a little weird: One the one hand, the people here are very frank, on the other hand they are unapproachable. When you get to know them, they are very warm hearted, but if you are standing in front of their door, you could feel the distance.
I think the best way to cover this distance is humor – this way you can easily get to know other people and break the ice.
www.sossmar.de:Six years ago you first met Gerhard. Please tell us about it.
Andrei:This wonderful friendship was caused by my friend Vladimir Gabyshev from Moscow who got to know Gerhard years ago through a relief operation(1) in Russia in the 90ies. That’s how we made friends and our friendship grew with the numerous concerts.
www.sossmar.de:Your first visits to Soßmar, your first concerts at Hummer's Culture Parlour: What were your feelings in that not very typical concert ambience?
Andrei:I just liked that the audience was like a big family. Because of this feeling I could put more into my music.
In general, I like those concerts and musicales. They remind us of the times of Schumann. Then, concerts were like it is now in the Culture Parlour. The people who listened to Schumann or Schubert met, talked and were entertained by the music.
www.sossmar.de:What were your thoughts when Gerhard first told you about his idea of a collaboration of jazz and classical music in one concert?
Andrei:I thought that it was possible but I was not sure if we could realize it. As I met Eyran and got to know him it was easier for me and all my doubts were gone.
Above all: When two musicians are playing the piano, there’s no jazz, no classic, no romanticism. There are no more language barriers, there’s only good music and bad music.
And there’s a lot of fun.
www.sossmar.de:In October 2007, you arrived in Soßmar one day before Eyran did. What were the vibes like inside the Hummers‘ house?
Andrei:I’d describe it as conviviality. It was tense, but full of positive expectations.
www.sossmar.de:How did you prepare for these concerts in Lower Saxony? What were your thoughts and expectations? Did you try some jazz?
Andrei:I have to admit: I still cannot improvise jazz. These are two worlds, two kinds of musical thinking. But there are jazz transcriptions of classical pieces and I tried those.
It was my goal to show in the concert with Eyran that those two vectors, classic and jazz are not that far apart and that jazz can come close to classic and vice versa, just as Eyran showed with his adaptation of the classical pieces.
www.sossmar.de:Do you remember the moment you first met Eyran?
Andrei:Yes. I was in the Parlour and practiced, when Gerhard and Eyran entered and Gerhard introduced us. Right away I liked Eyran. He’s such an open-minded type and instantly broke the ice.
www.sossmar.de:What is your impression of that first concert with Andrei in Hummer's Culture Parlour?
Andrei:I was very pleased by that warm acceptance. It was a wonderful experience for me. We had not yet agreed on what we would play in which order –it was an improvisation from the beginning and very enthralling.
That was new to me and to the audience as well, we experienced the birth of a new kind of music.
www.sossmar.de:And how about the first concert with two pianos?
Andrei:That was in the Bechstein-Studio in Hamburg. At that concert I was astonished how consistent both parts sounded, and how they fit together. It could have been different – naturally, a jazz pianist has a complete different keystroke and a different tactfulness as a classical pianist. I then realized that Eyran has got a classical education, he was taught by Daniel Barenboim’s mother.
www.sossmar.de:I listened to Eyran’s new CD „88 fingers”. It contains two interpretations of classical pieces, one from your favorite composer Chopin and one from Mussorgsky’s „Pictures at an Exhibition”. According to the booklet they were recorded before you first met. They are very different from his present interpretations. Do you see a development, a progress caused by your meetings? Which version do you like best? And have you noticed such a change in your play?
Andrei:Yes, I noticed that my approach to the pieces has changed and I think Eyran would say that for himself as well.
What I like more? I like my changes, but I cannot tell if Eyran likes his. I have maturated due to our meetings.
There is a change in Eyran's improvisations, but maybe next year he will play in a complete different style.
By the way, I didn’t expect that Eyran would play the same program as last year, I had expected a new one. But it was completely different this time.
www.sossmar.de:Andrei, nearly one year after the great event, what do you now think about Gerhard's idea?
Andrei:This idea is great. It has got a great power that can deliver many new ideas in the future. We already think about new projects with Eyran.
www.sossmar.de:Recently, you performed with Eyran on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Michelsenschule in Hildesheim, the school were Gerhard was a teacher for 20 years. Surely a personal favor, for there was no real tour. Do you think that this concert was a success – and the reactions to it? Would you want to repeat it?
Andrei:The reaction was overwhelming. As I heard through newspapers and personal statements, the people were very happy. Especially those people who attended such a concert for the first time in their life. I believe that this concert was an important mission for us – and we were successful.
Of course I would like to repeat this with Eyran, but it will never be the same again for we all change constantly.
www.sossmar.de:Andrei, in the meantime, we talked to a lot of concertgoers. Nearly all those who weren’t interested in jazz and only came to hear the classical music were overwhelmed by Eyran's music and now are jazz fans. Those who thought that they would prefer jazz are now looking for your CDs. Did you expect this or did you hope for this?
Andrei:Until now, jazz und classic had two different audiences, that were now brought together by Gerhard's idea. That is very important and both parts have consciously experienced an extension. Through this interaction, everybody understood better the music’s substance.
It doesn’t surprise me that classic fans now listen to jazz and vice versa.
That doesn’t surprise me at all.
www.sossmar.de:One last question: What do you think of the people in Lower Saxony, especially about the people of Soßmar ?
Andrei:Neither have I built a house in Soßmar nor have I lived here for 20 years, but I feel like a „Soßmaraner”.
www.sossmar.de:Thank you so much! Do you have another message for the world out there?
Andrei:Enjoy the music.
(1) This relief operation that was originally planned for the Moscow boys‘ choir „Sweschnikov” who guested several times in Hildesheim and Soßmar, started in December 1989. It then was expanded to pensionaries of the Moscow Television, an orphanage and a psychiatric hospital. Till 1991, a total of approx. 10.000 packages was brought to Moscow by plane.

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