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15 Questions to the Quartet New Generation

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Susanne: Hi, I am fine thanks! Just on my way to Amsterdam to perform with QNG!
Andrea: Hi! I am really great! Just married and happy! I live in Amsterdam.
Heide: Thanks, I am fine – listening to music and smelling this falls first breeze sneaking through the window of my apartment in Berlin...

What’s on your schedule right now?
Susanne: Well, we are about to perform in Amsterdam in a beautiful church and a very interesting house concert series. Afterwards we have another concert in Germany! Then I am off for a recorder festival in Vienna!
Andrea: After the wedding on my schedule is picking up organisation stuff for my ensembles and expanding my teaching activity.
Heide: We are working hard on finishing our debut CD and are prepairing our next tour to the US next week, where we play with the “Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra” conducted by Kirk Muspratt. We will perform two Baroque Concertos for recorder quartet and orchestra, as well as a premiere written by Stephen Taylor. We are very excited!

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
Susanne: I might be a dancer! At least I would love to be one! Hopefully in my next live!
Andrea: A doctor, an instrument maker or a research scientiest (no idea what).
Heide: Oh, difficult question....there are so many things I would love to do. To stay with the Arts I would like to dance; or another dream: to illustrate or even also write childrenbooks. And maybe one day – when it is affordable also for recorder players – I would love to do a space flight in a rocket!

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Susanne: Frans Brüggen und my teacher Paul Leenhouts in the sense of staying with the recorder!
In general I am very much influenced, or let’s say inspired by most of the art movements during the 20th century, like DaDa, Surrealism, Fluxus, Performance Art, etc.
Andrea: What: Moving to Amsterdam (in 1998) and travelling to and being in Italy (for my recorder lessons between 1998 and 2000). I can understand why it was common for artists during centuries to travel there and get inspiration. Who: Walter van Hauwe and Pedro Memelsdorff (both rercorder players and my former teachers).
Heide: The very first and important influences as an artist were for sure my parents. They collect a lot of art at their house and took my brother and me to exhibitions and concerts since we were very young. I don’t know how they managed to keep us silent during a whole concert... they also made books for us where a lot of famous artists and conductors signed in for us. Later they supported all our wishes and needs as musicians, which was a really wonderful privilege – as I see here in Berlin for example that many parents cannot or don’t see a need to afford musical or artistic education for their children. But of course also my teachers and collegues gave important ideas. The nice aspect of being an artist is that you are never “finished” – you are always in progress, inspired and driven by new impressions, people, your environment.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
Susanne: To keep going, being patient and finding moments to rest is the hardest for me! The best is of course doing music, art, to able to perform on stage!
Andrea: The hardest part is to make a living out of it. The best is to be your own boss and to work together with great people, to stay curious and open and never getting bored.
Heide: It is very hard to stay patient and optimistic all the time. To work hard without much money, to keep this passion which inspires you but does not promise you that somebody will esteem it afterwards... But it is nice to be very free on the other hand. To play concerts in very different spaces and places of the world. To give this passion to the audiences and to feel the energy that comes back to the stage – sometimes shy, sometimes energetic, surprised or very enthousiastic. To be kind of an ambassador.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Susanne: In the sense of money I would say yes! But if you look at the development in the contemporary music scene there is a lot of new good stuff written and really good performed. More and more people are open to listen to that kind of music and let it flow into their daily life! That’s great!
Andrea: In my opinion the classical music scene is on the way up. The audience wants to be taken in other and new “worlds” and is willing to think or just feel. They certainly enjoy a creative “act” whatever it is (dance, media, modern or classical music....). I also think, that the musician gets a bigger role and responsibilities, as he/she is the “magician”, who takes the listeners attention with him/her. I have the feeling that our time is not a time of a “revolting art” but a “connecting art” in many ways: art disciplines, media possibilities, audience of different age, attitude and education... I think the key out of the crisis are young highly motivated and creative artists who work together on a contemporary art scene, where everybody feels welcome.
Heide: We are so supersatuated nowadays, you can have everything you want in a few seconds from the internet, I sometimes feel I'll  explode from all expressions, pictures, sounds, smells and activities after a day. Is there time to sit down for about two hours and just listen? Listen to some sounds you might have heard a thousand times before? Maybe the most renowned artists do play in sold out concerts halls, they can play what they want, it will be honoured. But what about all these young and upcoming artists that only a few audiences know? The artistic scene here is flourishing – you can see so many great performances, listen to many brillant artists. The crisis lies not in missing arts but in its support; to make it affordable for everybody to go to a concert for example. And to make people realize that forgetting their everyday life for one and a half hour doesn’t take their time, but gives some!

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
Susanne: I agree that it is almost pathetic in how many different versions you can hear one classical music piece nowadays! But in my opinion is it really worth recording this music as long as you have certain vision and a certain goal with it and let people be part of that vision!
Andrea: If an artist think he has something new and special to tell, .... why not?! Yes, let him/her record!
Heide: Most musicians don’t record music because it has to be recorded for an archive, but because they have a certain connection to the pieces they play. It is part of their personal life story. When you buy a CD of a certain artist you own a part from him. (And of course many things have not been done before!)

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Susanne: To be a personality on stage is right on top of my list of how to give a great live performance! On the other hand is the audience playing quite an important role as well, since there wouldn’t be a live performance without it! If both are aware of that fact and of each other, show respect, not so much can go wrong anymore!
Andrea: Apart from programming and technical aspects, a performance should be instinctive, lively, energetic, open, honest, with tension but still loose.
Heide: This is what I already mentioned in question no.5 what’s the best about being a musician. It is important to me to be close to the audience in a performance. To touch people in some way – it doesn’t always need to be a gentile way, but somehow! This is what creates interaction – to be ready to dicuss. Of course we are always happy to hear enthousistic reactions after a concert, but also critics are welcome! A good live performance distinguishes itself by being individual and expressive. Especially when you perform something “classical” or well known – this needs even more a special detail or note to make it sound fresh.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
Susanne: Interpretation is one of the most important aspects in music! Somehow it can really get on my nerves, especially if you play baroque sontatas, but I am afraid it is indispensable!
Andrea: Understanding, “Translating”, underlining and giving shape and body to a musical concept. Taking the biggest possible freedom and being most creative within the material given by the composer.
Heide: Interpretation for me means a mixture between the knowledge of the historical background of this music (if you use it in the end or not), personal ideas and a lot of soul. I am not a strict advocat of correct historical interpretation – you should be aware of it, but the most important thing is to make the music you play to “your” music, to perform it respectfully but self-confidently.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
Susanne: A musician without any personal emotion is no musician – just sad!
Andrea: True.
Heide: I think the word “duty” is not the right word in this context, but to put personal emotions into the music is of course what breathes life into music – and touches the audience. You can decide to put personal emotions in it, which makes you of course vulnerable at some point, it is very honest. But think about an actor – he creatse an emotion and uses it so convincingly that nobody has any doubt. I think a real artist doesn’t need to SHOW these emotions obviously, but when he performs there lies the certain something in it, but you can’t catch it.  Music without emotions is dead. Emotions are the magic of an artist.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Susanne: I am afraid it is true! It keeps me going and going!
Andrea: My husband is my first love and music is my passion.
Heide: I am sure that I couldn’t live without music, but there has to be space for other things next to it!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
Susanne: People don’t really need to be educated to be able to listen to classical music. This music speaks for itself and it will always do something with you! But I think to really appreciate what artists are doing, their process of how to perform music, etc. Most people don’t really see and value!
Andrea: Not yet sure.
Heide: This depends on which demand you have on classical music – I think the most important thing is to be interested in it! Somebody who is interested in something, but doesn’t really know about it very much can percieve a lot. And enjoy maybe even more, because his mind is blank about this. Somebody who is educated of course hears music  in a different way – he maybe understands (or tries to ) the structures and harmonics, hears a lot more details.
To know some background of the music – doesn’t matter if classical, contemporary, of course also funk or hip hop for example always brings you a little closer to it. I sometimes heard people say that “classical music” is only for rich people – this seems quite sad to me. Maybe classical musicians should work more on bringing their music to this population too.
Like Sir Simon Rattle did it with his project “Rhythm is it”.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
Susanne: Hm, I really would have to think about that!... Probably most of my friends, who are just really great and brilliant artists!!!
Andrea: QNG!!!!!!!!
Heide: I am very bad in making decisions, but I think it would be a very colorful, international season. Fusion projects with music of other musical traditions, Contemporary and Early “Classical” Music, dance projects,...

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Susanne: If you belief it or not: The new recording of “The Fours Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi, recorded by Michala Petri and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (EMI classics)
Andrea: “Sidus praeclarum” by Mala Punica
Heide: Does it need to be a classical CD? I could listen to the music of Jack Johnson all day long at the moment and I am a fan of the bulgarian artist Azis.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
Susanne: I played also piano and church organ and was quite ok on them – I think...but it never felt right for me to play a keyboard instrument! The recorder is more intimite, very personal and honest! You can produce your own, deepest sound – more than with other instruments, since the recorder has no resistance at all!
Andrea: Piano, Harpsichord, Singing, Traverso: all beginner level.
Heide: Recorder was my first choice – and I did that voluntarily – later I wanted to learn harp or flute and stayed for about seven years with the flute. I played quite well, but never good enough to do it professional – in some way it is of course very close, but in other ways so different to the recorder. I had to decide. I also tried the violin for a short time, but it drove away everything around me in an even shorter time... Now I am taking singing lessons which is really wonderful – and though the recorder is in my opinion one of the most honest instruments, this is another, new and exciting experience.

Quartet New Generation

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