ARTISTIC COLLABORATIONS: AN INTERPRETER’S VIEW

Prof. MA. Romain Petiot, guitarist and Prof. Elena Stojceska, flutist / Paris - France /

Umělecká spolupráce z pohledu interpretů

As musicians since our youngest age we learn to be generous in interpretation. We learn music as a vector to express our feelings and thoughts through the prism of a musical piece. Our interpretation is of course built in very different manners depending on what we play and our vision of the composer's ideas. After years of musical studies we enter the professional world of music art, finding that on this scale where we are bound to touch larger audiences, things become more complicated. We are soon facing the fact that our art alone is not enough. Practicing endlessly, always trying to improve, constantly facing ourselves with new musical challenges allows us to become professional musicians. However, soon, the modern interpreter is bound to play at peak level but is often in lack of opportunities to share his music with audiences.

 

We have experienced two sides of international collaborations: the first one is millennial and has always been about artists who share their experience and point of view, or go on long journeys to learn from someone else. History of artists is full of examples on this regard. On the other hand, since very recently with the developing of Internet and various ever-present screens, image has taken a predominant importance. Medias polluted the environments and became a whole part of our life. Thus, even for musicians, which is a paradox, images and appearances have taken precedence over the music. As a consequence, there is often confusion or a misplaced parallel between what we can see of interpreters on social medias and the art itself.

I

We both had various experiences, which were stepping-stones or defining moments of our artistic development. To illustrate this a few examples from each of us and as a duo as well:

Born in a small country struggling to stabilize its political and economical situation since the fall of Ex Yugoslavia, finding a way to continue my studies abroad was a real challenge. I’ve had a choice between France, Italy and Russia and the choice fell on France as close friends helped me get the necessary contacts with teachers, music schools and find accommodation. As a student I understood that there are few things beside studying, that are essential and that I had to do: learn the language to communicate as much as possible, making new friendships, exchange, but also meet many young composers who are looking for interpreters for their work. As a student, having accommodation in a university campus or artistic residencies was of great help, as it gave me the opportunity to work with many composers and perform their pieces, create sound environments for painting exhibitions, take part in different transversal projects. At the end of my studies, I chose to live and work in France as art in France has a special place and is valorised, Macedonia was and still is in lack of opportunities, and the few opportunities existing are much influenced by the politics. Many of my student day collaborations opened possibilities for further professional exchanges, national and international, such as my collaboration with composer Doina Rotaru whom I met since my arrival in France when I played for many years in the French Flutes Orchestra. Every concert in France and abroad was a unique experience for the student that I was, as we premiered work in the presence of the composers.  Another example of a personal experience is my meaningful encounter with Italian composer Massmiliano Messieri. It was the beginning of a long professional friendship opening many opportunities for international collaboration for my duo and me. I have performed M. Messieri’s pieces for solo flute in Italy, France and Macedonia, but after our concert with the Duo SoliPse at Maskfest Festival of San Marino, we premiered M. Messieri’s pieces here in Kromeriz last year, as our concert at the Forfest Festival was organized in collaboration with Maskfest.  And here we are again this year as a perfect example of this cooperational circle between us, Maskfest and Forfest Festival. Thus in my professional world I decided I’d continue to cherish my youth essentials, always create new worldwide friendships and try to give a voice to new musical scores as I determined this should be my role as interpreter.

As a young guitarist, I remember participating for the very first time in an international competition in Koblenz, Germany. I was at the time studying with Maestro Alberto Ponce and was fairly confident in my capacities. What a shock I had when, I did not even pass the first round. I remember this time however not as a failure but as an eye-opening moment, which allowed me to grow and become a much better musician. When I was in Germany, I had the opportunity to exchange a lot with other guitarists from all over the world, who played in quite different ways. I listened to various guitarists, and sought advice with some more experienced musicians. Then I began developing my own point of view regarding the guitar and interpretation, which became quite different to the one-way road I took before, the one of my teacher. This experience conditioned the choice of my future studies and since then I often participated in festivals or competitions, always seeking to share, exchange, learn and discover different approaches than mine. For in Art, and a fortiori in music, which is an art of the moment, we are interpreters in constant evolution, even in concert or maybe especially when in concert and this constant evolution is the essence of our interpretation. That is why it is vital for the sake of our art to constantly seek new exchanges and in this regard, international collaborations may be the most interesting ones. From a distant place, often, artists develop different visions about music and the creativeness is always in this area where different ideas or opposed points of views confront themselves.

With the developing of the Internet, which we will reflect upon below (see second part), we may have lost a little bit our way as artists in terms of exchanges and collaborations. When we remember the past and for instance the salons d’artistes in the 19th century Paris, it is dazzling to imagine that Chopin, Delacroix, Sand, Liszt, Paganini, Hugo, Berlioz and other prominent artistic figures met regularly. What an inspiration for each other these encounters may have been with this much artistic legacy enclosed in one room! These moments where artists met and shared their Art contributed obviously to the artistic growth of each one of them. For talking about art, exchanging about new ideas, presenting new materials, criticizing them in the noble meaning of the word are priceless to every artist. If nowadays we can communicate faster, and exchange worldwide with the tip of our fingers, somewhat, something of the essence of communication, of collaboration to an artistic goal is lost. After all we are the same humans as centuries ago and for them as for us, collaboration in person, with informal exchanges and getting to know each other - in other words adding an emotional dimension to the exchange - changes everything and gives to a real encounter the substance of vitality it lacks when physically apart. It may be that this very substance of vitality is some part of the Art. It seems then obvious that every opportunity we have as artists to collaborate is to be cherished. Encounters, reaching out, organising events, giving concerts in different venues or situations, colloquies; all ways who lead to share, confront ideas, discover, imagine, learn are defining moments. It is in our hands to continue this legacy of artistic collaboration creating the conditions for these encounters to happen worldwide.

 

II

The developing of Internet and alongside with it much faster ways to communicate as well as an easy access to billions of hours of music recorded and countless videos of interpreters have greatly changed our social experience of music.

We can see many benefits from this, particularly in terms of access to classical music. This easy access have democratized classical music, or at least it allows people who would not have gone over the threshold of a concert room to listen and discover this wonderful world now one click away. Of course, when you see the video of a concert it is but an ersatz of what you can experience in live concert but still, it is better than nothing and if it allows more people to discover the wide range of classical music then it is definitely worth it.

For us interpreters, and particularly when studying, easy access to music videos are priceless. It allows us to listen to many musicians, broaden our musical horizons, compare, and sometimes learn new approaches. Once again, of course it is much better to see people in person playing live and exchange with them or take a masterclass for instance but when it is not possible, this new tool is quite convenient and is of a tremendous help to the rise of the level of the interpreters worldwide. So, we would call this kind of interactions, with both sides of the interaction active, but not at the same time (one is active when making the video, the other when watching it) differed international (when it is the case) collaborations.

For professional interpreters nowadays, Internet and presence on social medias is at the same time a wonderful asset and a curse. An asset for example in the relations we interpreters can have with composers, we can now very easily exchange and share with them, explaining details of our instruments and if necessary helping to arrange some music parts. However, it is now compulsory, and becoming more and more so, to exist on Internet and social medias as musicians. That is because our Internet existence is supposed to be a reflexion of our real existence and when more people see you through the prism of social medias than in reality, images and appearances become more defining than reality itself. What we often forget is that Internet is indeed a reflexion, but quite a deformed one for it is manipulated by humans who have very different goals and agendas. Simply put: our existence as interpreters and our value as musicians are directly dependent on our Internet existence when considering social recognition. This is of cataclysmic importance and leads to clumsy conclusions for unfortunately a great number of people. For example, you can see thousands of people, or millions even, getting to love some interpreter just because he his omnipresent on the Internet: numerous videos, social medias ever-presence, praise by a few critics, touring endlessly around the world etc. Of course, this does not say that this interpreter plays badly, he could even be great or the genius of the century but the problem is that too much people make up their minds solely on what they deduce they should think based on Internet “fame”. This behaviour is even worse in its complementary side: someone who plays beautifully but is not present on the internet will not be considered by many as a good musician because most of the people would doubt themselves: if they don’t have the assurance that thousands share their point of view, they would for most of them tamper it or just change it.

Internet is at the same time the tool for democratisation of music and broadening of musical horizons and the killer of a self made mind; which is a shame for we know that unanimity or worldwide one-way opinion are rarely synonyms of Art.

What we tried to depict above was of course a Manichean over-simplification but nonetheless too true sometimes. In the day-to-day reality of interpreters, it is a constant struggle to find a balance between the time you spend practicing your Art and the time you spend managing your Internet image. It seems obvious than Art is the essence and that as little time as possible should be taken from it for secondary purposes such as social-media communication. In the other hand, collaboration with other musicians, artists, composers or festivals implies communication and, nowadays, communication is through Internet and social medias. Of course it can also be considered that our preoccupation with Internet image and communications is but the natural evolution of now extinct epistolary exchanges, it is indeed true that every great figure of Art in our history was intensely communicating through mail in their time. In the end every artist must find his own path in this regard in balance between the Art itself and the externalisation of it through medias. Therefore, to avoid the fate of Icarius, we should not lean too much in only the image of Art, or seek desperately approval of the community because one can too easily loose his artistic way being only preoccupied by existing desperately online and receiving a too easily given praise.

 

by Duo SoliPse : Prof. MA. Romain Petiot, guitarist and prof. Elena Stojceska, flutist

Copyright © 2011-18 Forfest.cz. Stránky archivovány Národní knihovnou ČR.