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15 Questions to Andrea Merenzon

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I was born in Buenos Aires,  Argentina, my relatives being Russian Jewish inmigrants. I spent my first years between Cuba and Israel. My education in Argentina was in a French school and I went for college in the US (Indiana University). I did travel a lot and I feel that I can be everywere without any adapatation problem. But my deepest feelings go out to Latin American. The way that we need to survive in Latin America gives us a special strongness and way to enjoy life.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I am a member of the Orquesta Filarmonica de Buneos Aires, and I have a large schedule of soloist and chamber music concerts in Argentina and Overseas.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
Managing, producing, acting, taking care of other people, working on special assistance programs to the third world.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Noel Devos , the french bassoonist who has been living in Brazil for 50 years and has comissioned and premiered houndreds of pieces by Brasilian composers. He is older than 75 now and still enjoys perfoming.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
The hardest is to be trained every day and looking for performances as a soloist and as a part of chamber music. On this side of the world, musicians have to be a mix between artists and managers.

The best is to be able to comunicate with anyone in the world. Music is an international language and this is wonderful. When I travel to different countries and I feel that any person could be touched by my music, I just feel wonderful. With words I can only communicate to Spanish, Portugese, French and English speakers, with music to everybody – even those who speak totally different languages.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Yes, I feel that because of new technologies (TV, audio and computers), people have become too lazy to go out to the concert hall and tend to stay at home more. The main problem in arts today, is to bring audiences to concert halls, theatres, exibitions etc...

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
I guess they are wrong, each performer can give his very own point of view of the same piece. And this is wonderful. Each recording is unique.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Performing should be a way to express yourself, to enjoy music and make other people enjoy it. I believe the miracle happens, when the performer enjoys his performance just as much as the audience listening. It´s like making love. You need more than one and both people envolved in this relationship should enjoy themselves and feel happy.  

Many people get very stressed out when they perform  and I guess they should find some help to work on this. If something like music doesn’t make life better and bring pleaseure to them, there’s something wrong. Enjoyment on stage is one way for a performer to feel freedom... To be able to be free, it is necessary to work hard before, practising to be sure about your instrument and the piece you’re performing. If there is stress on stage , it is maybe because you’re not confident about your technique and the piece you’re performing. My Father, who was my teacher, always told me :... if you want to be confident   that some orchestral solo or some piece will  be well performed , you must practice it and play it 10 times witout mistakes. If you paly nine times and the last has any mistake, start again....

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
Any composition needs a performer to become alive. Until the performer plays it, it is nothing more than signs on a piece of paper. Music is a chain: you need one human being who creates the piece (the composer), an other human being who performs the piece (the performer) and a third one who listen to the piece (the audience). All are important to get the miracle of creating emotions. The composer needs the performer and the audience needs both of them.

Each performer will put his interpretation to the notes he reads on paper. And this is an other miracle, each performance is unique.The same piece performed by the same performer will be different depending on his humor, the ambience, the concert hall and the audience feedback.This miracle makes life interesting and exciting, I could listen to any great  piece many times, as different performers bring it to the concert hall. Of course, I will enjoy some interpretations more than others, but this depends on my own concept of the piece (I do have my own interpretation that will be closer to some and more distant to others).

Interpretation is the way that each human being processes the information he receive from the composer and he will add to the composers idea his own feelings, interpretation and emotion.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
It is true. Why would composers write music for many instruments, if they were not considering that other people will perform it and give their own interpretation. If this were true, they’d only write a solo piece to be performed solely by themselves. And after they die, nobody would perform it again.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
I can´t say that it is true because I have many loves. My family, music and all of humanity. I myself am not a religious person but for them, even if they love music more than anything, god will be their first love.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
False. Education helps, of course, but in any fine arts the emotion can be there even without any education, it depends on the sensibility of each person. I am not an educated person when it comes to theatre or dancing, but I enjoy a good theatre piece or a good dance performance. And the strong education I have in music will never make me enjoy a boring piece.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I am the general director of the Buenos Aires International Festival and the International Youth Orchestra Festival. We do have a large programme with many universal classical pieces but I always also program latinamerican classical music. We do have the responsability to promote our composers and our culture as well the universal culture.

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Mahler symphonies collection (Concertgebouw Orchestra recording & B. Haiting, conductor)

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I perform the bassoon and the contrabassoon at the same level. What I can tell you is that I did try to perform different styles in music: classical, tango, jazz, folk and contemporary. I gess that each style is special and offers different ways to understand as well as feel music and life. I also think that to try other fine arts is important for a performer. Since a live performance is a show, the way we act on stage is also part of the show. I did practice dance and acting (theater), I did paint a litte bit and enjoy seeing exibitions of paintings and sculptures. Al, of these experiences  gives me a concept of the beauty, space location, rhythm and, of course, different ways to be touched and to arouse emotion in other people.

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