Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Speed Interview – Sigiswald Kuijken

Mon Mar 24 2014

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In the lead up to tomorrow’s concert featuring the violoncello da spalla, we spoke with director and violoncello da spalla player Sigiswald Kuijken.

How did you get into music?
It is as if I always was into it; it had to happen… In both families of my parents there were lots of amateur musicians – but hardly professionals. The genes did their work – of the 6 brothers, three went into music.

When did you realise you wanted to make music your career? I feel as if I never had to make a choice, it was always clear… I had no doubt about it…

Why use an ‘extinct’ instrument like the Violoncello da Spalla and how does this affect the music overall? My curiosity and kind of natural intuition made me try this – and I felt I should continue, as it opened new understandings for me.  If it affects the music “overall”, this I do not know … its use is not a Copernican revolution!!!! So we should not exaggerate its “overall” importance; my scope was not to change the world! But it is certainly worth experimenting with it, in the field of ancient music, since it brings back lost connections, in sound and thinking…

Who is your musical hero? (banal question, I am sorry…. ) unless I say “Bach”, whom I would never call a hero… (sorry, I really do not like this kind of tasteless advertising-terminology, our world is greatly suffering from it!).

You were the first person ever to conduct the OAE. What was that like and how have they changed since then? It was thrilling, in 1986 – for all of us, since the players had been taking this new initiative of creating a more “independent” pool of musicians in London! I was honoured to be asked to “baptise” the new association – I knew many of the colleagues from before , it was a joyful time! I haven’t worked with the Orchestra since 1989, so I suppose and hope for them that they had their own evolution in the direction they thought to be the best.

When you’re not busy performing, what do you like to do in your spare time? I have trouble to ‘divide’ my time into “spare” and “not spare”… All is one.

What was the last good film you saw? Amour (by Michael Haneke)

If you could choose to work in a different profession, what would it be and why? A different PROFESSION? I cannot really imagine to have another one, so I cannot imagine the reasons why I should have taken it… Our life is more than our profession, and profession is more than a profession…

What’s the most obscure album you own? No idea – I feel not concerned by this question…

What was your worst ever concert? I should say I forgot, ask the audiences!!!

Which book do you think everybody should read? I believe I do not have such a general message to the world. We all have such different needs and questions, inside…

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring musicians? It is at least in 3 pieces, sorry: Develop yourselves with humility and an open mind – Don’t be victim of fashions – Let success NOT be your main guide!!!

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