CONDUCTOR TATIANA KALINICHENKO: it is important to disenchant Ukraine for the world! (Part I)
Tatiana Kalinichenko. Artistic Director and Conductor of the New Era Orchestra. Photo: Dmitry Peretrutov
The head of the New Era Orchestra Tatiana Kalinichenko is a unique person. Firstly, in the musical world, a female conductor is the exception rather than the rule. And in combination with the managerial talent that helps her to fulfill the duties of an art director, it is generally a single phenomenon.
Secondly, it opens up the great musicians of our time for Ukrainians. Thirdly, it presents Ukraine as a cultural brand all over the world. And then fourthly, fifthly, sixthly… A live interview is like a live concert – its energy cannot be conveyed. But let’s try. So, conductor Tatiana Kalinichenko: sketches about time, music and destiny.
Without music, life would be a mistake!
New Era Orchestra is an independent orchestra from Kyiv, created in 2007. There are more than 30 international projects with the participation of outstanding performers of classical music on its account.
Among them are violinist Joshua Bell, cellist Gautier Capuçon, percussionist Christoph Sietzen, mandolinist Avi Avital, recorder Maurice Steger and many others. Creativity is mysticism. I think fate is doing everything so that people, whose meaning of life is music, will definitely meet.
Last September I received a letter from the manager of the eminent French cellist Gautier Capuçon. She wrote that Gautier really wants to meet and play with us. It was a great offer.
But Capuçon had a “window” only in March 2021 – just when we were supposed to perform in Kharkiv at the Kharkiv Music Fest. No one fully understood whether the concert would take place in Kharkiv on March 25, because in connection with the covid on March 20, all the halls in Kyiv had already been closed.
To be honest, I still don’t understand how we have managed to organize all this. In record time, together with the Kharkiv Music Fest team, determined a date close to our performance at the festival, found funding for Gautier’s concert, held negotiations with the French Embassy…
To some extent it was a gamble, we didn’t know if air travel would be allowed, if concerts would be banned due to the entry of Ukrainian cities into the “red zone”, but we really wanted this concert, and we succeeded.
Alas, the day before the performance, fate presented another surprise, this time unpleasant – I was diagnosed with coronavirus, and the orchestra was left without a conductor! The accompanist had to take over my role. Gautier put himself in my place, morally supported me and the musicians. Unexpected difficulties united the orchestra, Gautier and the musicians worked as a single organism.
It was incredible understanding and support from him. This concert, which for various reasons and circumstances could not take place many times, was for me a direct demonstration of the mysticism of life. Unfortunately, Gautier and I did not manage to meet at that time. But we are texting. And we will definitely play together when the epidemic is over and all borders are open.
New Era Orchestra is an independent orchestra from Kyiv, created in 2007. There are more than 30 international projects with the participation of outstanding performers of classical music. Among them are violinist Joshua Bell, cellist Gautier Capuçon, percussionist Christoph Sitzen, mandolinist Avi Avital, recorder Maurice Steger and many others.
PARTNER’S SCALE AND SECRET CHIPS
In Zurich, mutual acquaintances introduced us to the amazing Swiss virtuoso, the real magician of the recorder Maurice Steger. At the BOUQUET KYIV STAGE festival, created by the famous philanthropist Yevgeny Utkin, Maurice and I played an amazing concert, which even the thunderstorm that burst over the open stage could not stop.
We also had an unforgettable partnership experience with multi-percussionist Christoph Sietzen. I must say that works for orchestra and solo percussion are performed extremely rarely in Ukraine.
We have included in the program the concert Frozen in Time by Israeli author Avner Dorman, one of the most beloved composers of our orchestra. For five years we have been preparing the Musical Bridges project, because there was no solution on how to deliver to Ukraine a huge number of percussion instruments, most of which are simply not available in our country.
As a result, we managed to equip a huge truck from Salzburg to Kyiv. When we came to the rehearsal at the conservatory, we were shocked – Christoph’s percussion instruments occupied more than half of the stage… But the result exceeded all expectations!
When you have a strong partner next to you, you become more aware of your capabilities. Our website has a quote from Guy Ritchie’s film Revolver, the original source of which is an 1883 treatise on chess: “The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent”.
Christoph Sietzen as a partner turned out to be absolutely incredible, he is just music embodied. Since 2019, we have become good friends with him and have come up with many different “secret chips”.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS A INTEGRAL IMAGE
It is important for me that an unexpected combination of different pieces of music creates a complete image of the program. This is how the Gstaad Menuhin Festival works. Its art director Christoph Müller deserves a great respect from me. He is in constant search, always offering something unexpected.
In this sense, we are very similar to him. In general, we are constantly working on the image – for each specific program and the orchestra as a whole. I always focus on the best examples, for example, how the London Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam Sinfonietta present themselves. Many talented and famous artists, designers and even sculptors help us to work on the image of the orchestra. I always work with the best.
In the field of digital technologies, we are supported by the orchestra’s constant partners: the excellent digital artist Stepan Ryabchenko and the talented digital designer Pavel Kovalev.
One of the best photographers in Ukraine Dmitry Peretrutov is working on our images – his works are real works of art. Image solutions are created by the amazing Ukrainian designer Fyodor Vozianov and the bright, unusually creative team of stylist Olga Ipatova.
CLASSICS – THE MOST MODERN MUSIC!
When you are dealing with classics, it only seems that everything has already been played thousands of times before you and it is impossible to discover anything new. In general, classics and modernity are a very conditional division.
For example, Vivaldi’s music for me is incredibly modern, it is the music of the future! The same are Mozart, Beethoven… If their music sounds archaic, uninteresting, it means that you yourself made it that way. You did not understand it, did not reveal what was in it.
It is worth adding another reading – and the classics begin to sound as if they were written literally today! In addition, the concept of “modern music” is also rather conventional – some names have not changed on posters for 30-40 years. Everyone is talking about the need for “fresh blood”, new names. But we are dealing with a very conservative industry in which it is difficult for new musicians and orchestras to break into the “big league”.
NOT AN EXTRAORDINARY ORCHESTRA
In our team, up to 50 people can gather for a specific program. The main core of the orchestra is unchanged, but the composition can be slightly modified – depending on the tasks. Formally, we are similar to other orchestras: conductor, musicians, instruments, sheet music… But in reality, we are different! Even visually.
We have our own, special style: how we play, how we are dressed, how we look at photo shoots, how we are on stage, what is the design of our posters – all this is very important! There can be no trifles here.
I know by sight every microphone, every letter on our website, every technical detail on which the music depends. It is this attention to detail that allows you to create a unique, unlike anything else atmosphere, when the musicians feel good together, when they are “driven”.
I am very sensitive to mood. And when we get together, I always repeat, “Your main task is to enjoy what you are doing!” If you do not get pleasure from the game, if it does not happen from the first second of contact with the music, why bother? Change your profession before it’s too late!
Now I’m not even talking about the final result, which is achieved by long rehearsals. I’m talking about a complete, instant immersion in music – it is exactly what is inherent in world stars. By the way, it is for this reason that an online performance will never replace a live concert. In addition, it is also a question of the listener’s self-awareness…
Once Yevgeny Utkin said, “Only real elites can afford to listen to a live performance. It makes your life better, because it gives you pleasure that cannot be compared with any gadgets”.
I am the daughter of an officer. And I got used to the nomadic way of life. I was born in the Sverdlovsk garrison. Then there were different cities and countries… But there are two cities that are special for me. This is Odessa, where my parents met. And Chernivtsi, where I met a teacher who opened my eyes. He put his whole soul, hope and talent into me. Without this person, I simply would not have taken place as a conductor.
Interviewed by Zhanna Kryuchkova, Vlad Mikheev