Prominent Music Conductor Teodor Currentzis Advocates for Showcasing the Richness of Arab Culture

music conductor teodor currentzis showcase the richness of arab culture

The Greek-Russian star conductor Teodor Currentzis and musicAeterna, the orchestra and choir he founded almost 20 years ago in Siberia, will make their Middle Eastern debut in Dubai at the Dubai Opera on April 27 and 28.

The first performance will be a tribute to the Italian influence in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s work, featuring Francesca da Rimini, Symphonic Fantasy after Dante, Op.32; Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy-Overture after Shakespeare, TH 42; and the fantasy Capriccio Italien, Op. 45. The second performance will present pieces from five of Richard Wagner’s operas: Parsifal, Tannhäuser, Tristan and Isolde, Lohengrin, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Currentzis conducts without a baton, using expressive and precise hand gestures. His full-body movements are both Dionysian and Apollonian, inviting, urging, and leading his musicians to shape a forest of sounds. Standing at an imposing height with an intense demeanor, Currentzis has the look of a pop and onscreen idol and a personality that could build a cult around him.

Through musicAeterna, he has been reinterpreting the masterpieces of the past, from Purcell to Shostakovich, and expresses his enthusiasm about performing in the Emirates, envisioning high-level exchanges and creating a global cultural center in the UAE that would bring together local and European academic cultures.

During an interview, he discussed his vision, a total, quasi-superhuman, monastical dedication to music, and his fondness for Arabic music. Excerpts from the interview:

What made you choose Wagner and Tchaikovsky for the Dubai concerts? Wagner is the most important composer of the 19th century, a reformer of the art of orchestration, and the founder of conducting practice in its modern form. The programme we are taking to the Dubai Opera will present fragments of his most famous operas, forming a synopsis of Wagner’s mature work, a beginner’s guide to Wagner. Tchaikovsky is our soul, a sentimental choice, with emotional, dramatic, expressive, and personal music.

Do you usually expect to face unique challenges when performing to audiences across cultures? Precisely this time in the UAE? I love it when people from different countries, cultures, and traditions meet. Such communication is very enriching and gives us the opportunity to form a new way of thinking for the future development of culture and society. Music allows us to speak the same language no matter how different we are.

What has been the manifesto or philosophy behind the musicAeterna ensemble and chamber choir since their foundation in Novosibirsk, Siberia, in 2004? The unique thing about musicAeterna is that it is not just a symphony orchestra in the conventional sense. It is a community of rare specialists who once gathered to set off on a large-scale expedition to explore what music and humans are. These people don’t clock-watch, waiting for their working day to end. We don’t consider what we do to be work at all. It is our life, our ministry, our mission.

Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and pursue a career in music? Symphonic music inspired me to practise conducting. The synergy that arises between the musicians in the ensemble is like the unification of all the elements of nature. Being a part of the orchestra, a person enters into some special relationship with nature, expresses himself in it, and says something important in this way.

Do you prefer conducting symphonic repertoire or opera? I’m more of an opera conductor, but now I conduct operas less, as I don’t run an opera house. However, I stage new performances yearly at the Salzburg and Diaghilev festivals. Yet, I am more interested in the transcendental experience with the audience. In general, I am interested in those areas where there is inspiration, and the opportunity to create something new is always inspiring.

How do you transmit your ideas about a work to your musicians during rehearsal? Apart from explaining our strategy, how we will perform and how we will create the sound we need, I also try to find the source of that feeling, which will help us express what is reflected in the music. It’s impossible to explain; you can only feel it.

What does perfection mean to you? Perfection is what I dream of and believe in, but it is what remains unattainable. No matter how much we strive to achieve it or how close we approach it, we always stay one step away from it. However, this unattainable dream motivates us to continue on this path.

How do you want to be remembered in the future? I want to be remembered as a person who did something good in this life, brought something bright and real, and shared something that helped people find hope and become better human beings. Everyone wants to be remembered for this,but everyone does the opposite thing for some reason.



Salma Hussain is an MBBS doctor who loves to write on health-related topics. Apart from this, writing on sports and entertainment topics is her hobby. She is playing the role of an important writer in Arab Post.

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