He believes that music and the other arts can change our our feelings and mindsets to help create a world of beauty and peace.
Artistic director and chief conductor of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Jens Georg Bachmann spoke to Maria Panayiotou about the orchestra’s plans for the future and this week’s Cyprus piano gala.
Q: What were your goals when you started conducting the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra? To what extent have you succeeded?
A: My goals were both artistic and operational. With my fellow CySO musicians and the Board’s support, I wanted to offer the Cyprus audience a constantly improving musical experience. With the dedicated, hardworking musical talents of the orchestra we raise both the musical quality and emotional gratiﬁcation of our performances to the extent that I am humbled by the outpouring of approval and praise from our constantly growing audiences and the press. But this is still a work in progress; we can repay this positive feedback with even greater performances in the months and years to come. Operationally, we wanted to build a larger audience, upgrade the orchestra’s attire and equipment, perform in better venues and get invited abroad, thus helping to expand Cyprus’s cultural image internationally. We are still waiting for RIK to start our concert broadcasts. With all these ﬁrst steps we made signiﬁcant progress and if I am given the opportunity to continue my work here, we can promise that we will improve in all these aspects excitingly more.
Q:Did you manage to enlarge the audience attendance at CySO concerts?
A: Yes, we are grateful for an impressive increase of the total numbers of attendees. According to our sales reports, we increased the attendance by nearly 70% and the sales income has been doubled within two years! That’s an unsurpassed success rate; we never had such high numbers. Most importantly, however, I sense that we now attract people attending our concerts for the ﬁrst time, young families and audiences of all ages – and they return. I am deeply grateful to our growing, enthusiastic audiences, for their curiosity, trust and loyalty. They give us meaning and relevance for our timeless mission.
Q: Does the small size of the orchestra limit your repertoire? Have you tried to increase the number of orchestra musicians?
A: Over the last three years we have introduced more demanding works. However, the current size of the orchestra does limit our repertoire and what we can offer to our audiences. There are so many attractive and popular pieces which we can not perform for you, because we don’t have the players! Sometimes, we use guest musicians to enable us to perform larger works, but this is not a sustainable solution. The orchestra enlargement is amongst my highest priorities. For this, I have prepared a multi-year plan and began discussions with the relevant stakeholders.
Q: Did you discuss with the orchestra’s new board your suggestions for upgrading your work?
A: Yes. Aside from the musicians, the board is the key ally helping us implement our vision and needs. We are engaged in a mutually respectful and productive dialogue about all artistic, logistical and financial necessities.
Q: What role does the financial budget play in the final result of the Orchestra?
A: A very big one. Let’s note that seven years ago we had a 50% higher budget than today! This is a huge limitation and restriction to our obligation to serve this country well in this new decade and this needs to be changed soon.
Q: You are presenting a concert with five Cypriot pianists. What are we going to hear and why would you tell someone to come to the concert?
A: There are so many reasons for this Cyprus Piano Gala: In honor of the Republic’s 60th anniversary, I want to present the professional piano talents of this country. The pieces they play are all differently fascinating: brilliant or dreamy, exuberant or introvert, Baroque, Classical and Romantic and all rarely performed nowadays. Besides, I will present you a talented and very promising child, 12 year old Anna Avraamidou. You will experience within 90 minutes more different things than usually in a concert!
Q: What other interesting concerts will we hear in the coming months?
A: We will continue our Beethoven Cycle with the piano concertos and symphonies with renowned soloists. My predecessor, maestro Baltas will return and conduct a programme dedicated to Greek poet and Nobel Prize winner Yiorgos Seferis who was inspired by Cyprus’s beauty – again, with Cypriot soloists and even composers. We offer one programme ranging from famous movie music and Piazolla (the “King of Tango”) to Mozart. God willing, we will inaugurate the new Eleftheria Square and will finish the season with the Cyprus premiere of Ravel’s famous “Bolero” with both orchestras (CySO and CyYSO) together.
Q: What have you personally gained from collaborating with the CySO musicians?
A: Coming to Cyprus, I was excited about this country’s historical and cultural abundance and the high musical potential of the orchestra. I am grateful to the musicians joining me create a completely new -and still growing- momentum and for the many wonderful friendships and warm connections we built. I learn from them every day and treasure their trust. But most significantly, it is compelling to be fully united as colleagues on stage in our strong mission for the vibrancy of the arts in this country.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to at home?
A: Classical music (symphonic, chamber music, opera), Jazz and, sometimes, Rock’n Roll.
Q: Can art and especially music change the world?
A: It surely can change us, our feelings and mind sets. And with that we can change the world into a place of beauty and peace.