Conductor Gregor Mayrhofer's interview
30 August 2021
on the eve of the 4th concert season of the Zaryadye Hall
-You will perform at Zaryadye hall on September 4 Will it be your first performance in Moscow, in Russia? Have you been to Russia before? What do you expect from the upcoming performance? And how do you encourage yourself if the audience is unfamiliar to you?
-Yes, it will be my triple debut: debut with MusicAeterna, debut in Russia, debut in Moscow and it will be the first time that my music is played in Russia.
I only was in St. Petersburg once for a conducting master class. It’s a dream now to come back and give a concert.
I am very excited to make music with such an extraordinary ensemble like MusicAeterna. In my Insect Concerto we will bring some very unusual sounds on stage. I am sure that this will be a premiere for many people in the audience to hear such sounds in a concert hall.
-What connects you with the orchestra musicAeterna? How did your collaboration with the orchestra start? You assisted Teodor Currentzis. Tell us please about these concerts.
-I was very happy to assist Teodor Currentzis several times and habe to say that some of these musical experience where the deepest of my whole life. I admire what he and Musica Aeterna created: a group of people that don’t only want to make a „normal“ beautiful concert, but they are all searching for something beyond the notes. That each evening is becoming a very unique experience for the audience. I think this is our task as artists to share with people how music can be more than just „nice entertainment“ but that it has the potential to touch our souls so deep like almost no other art form.
-You will conduct the Insect concerto. How did you come to the idea to create a concert for the cricets? What was the most difficult thing on stage? What was the most difficult when you created a version for violin and orchestra?
-The decline of Insects is one of the most urgent and dangerous problems of our times, but almost nobody talks about it. So I wanted to make a musical statement that shows how fascinating these animals are and wanted to create a dialog between insect sounds and our melodies/harmonies.
The main motives where not composed by me, but by the insects themselves. In the first version of the piece I took some recordings of their sounds, and the insects themselves where on stage. Now I created this orchestra Version, where we imitate all the insect sounds ourselves with our classical instruments.
So maybe we can raise the consciousness how fascinating these animals are and how important it is to protect them, to find a healthy natural balance between humans and nature. We sometimes forget that we are part of nature ourselves. If we destroy nature, we will destroy our own species.
-You are not only a conductor and composer, but also a pianist. Why do you prefer to play jazz as a pianist?
-I love improvising, because it is so unknown what will happen in the next moment. I think the best performances should feel for the audience as if the musicians would just invent the music right in this moment even if we play classical music. So my first compositions as a young boy where all Improvisations, I improvised even before I had the first „official“ classical piano lessons. later this developed to my huge love for jazz music.
-Among your composition there are such as Recycling concerto or Bugs for Cello and Live Elektronic. Do you believe that a composer has to respond to contemporary issues such as ecology or digital reality?
-I don’t know whether a composer HAS to - there are some great artworks that are purely music without any subject or story. But I WANT to respond to our time. Of course the eternal subjects of love and life and death and sense of life will never die. But live is bringing us sometimes very new challenges in our times. So I would like to search what are our artistically answers to these big questions.
-Could we wait a composition on the theme of antiCovid measures or something like that? What are you working on now?
-I don’t know whether Anticovid would be something what I could express through music. But I planned to compose one day a piece about this horrible isolation and loneliness that the COVID crisis caused for many people. Me too in the first months of Corona I was going through a very difficult time.
But Right now I am composing a big Oratorium about global warming (for soloists, choir and orchestra). But the subject behind is much more psychological: Why is it so hard for us humans to change, even if we know the facts already since many years.
When we follow these questions the subject is much bigger than only environmental protection. It is the question: Why are we here on the planet? For a god? For ourselves? For maximum of joy? Do we even have a choice about this, or are we maybe only animals that only hallucinate a free will, but just still follow our instincts?
We will see, what answer the music can give us for these subjects that maybe cannot be answered with words.