Zu den am Kammermusikfestival »intonations« beteiligten Musikern gehört auch Alexander Sitkovetsky, ein russischer Violinist. In seiner ganzen Familie ist die Musik fest verankert, er selbst gab sein erstes Konzert mit acht Jahren und wurde im selben Jahr in der renommierten Menuhil School in London aufgenommen. Er ist als Solist weltweit berühmt und spielt mit vielen bedeutenden Orchestern zusammen, unter anderem mit den iceetherlands Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra und dem BBC Concert Orchestra. Wir haben mit ihm ein Interview über das Kammermusikfestival Intonations und seine Beziehung zur klassischen Musik geführt.

Kissingenstraße 12: Hello! How are you?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I’m happy. It was amazing.

Kissingenstraße 12: All the music was amazing! Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s octet, the last composition you played, sounded great.

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Thank you. Apparently they do this octet not every year but often. It’s a good tradition to close the festival with this piece. So it is nice to do it this year.

Kissingenstraße 12: How did you like the festival?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Fantastic! It’s been my second year here at this festival. I met Elena Bahkirova about two years ago in Jerusalem. I’ve been at the Jerusalem festival twice, and twice in Berlin. It’s a very friendly community of musicians. This festival has taken place for a few years now, it started 20 years ago. So it’s great to celebrate this. I came to the party a little bit later, and it was quite good to join these guys. And of course it’s always different in some ways because of the geography and the different times of the year. In Jerusalem it is always towards the end of summer, so it’s really hot and there are very summery evenings. In Berlin it’s still spring and a bit cold.

Kissingenstraße 12: Do you see a relation between the cities of Jerusalem and Berlin?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Well, I’ve never thought about it too much but I think that in general there is a big Jewish population in Berlin. For me, the musicians are the biggest connection, because many of the musicians actually live here and they also come to Jerusalem, so it really feels like a family. In this regard the two cities feel very connected, too. Also, here the organization is similar to that in Jerusalem because it’s run by the same people, who are very helpful. They come from Jerusalem to come to Berlin and do this here. So, it is very, very connected.

Kissingenstraße 12: What does music mean to you? Why is it important to play music?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I think it brings such positive emotions. Even when there are so many different kinds of music. Some kinds of music are not supposed to give you any happy emotions but to do the opposite. I think that it rrally does connect you to an emotional experience and it’s also something that requires a little bit of concentration and listening. There are demanding pieces and also pieces which are very easy and understandable. And I think today, in a world where we are often busy with our phones and where all information is processed so fast, music can combine all of these things and make us all just come and sit down and just listen for a while and be calm and appreciative of the music. We have practiced a lot because we have to work very hard to go out on the concert stage. But of course it’s worth it. And it’s some of the most beautiful music in the world. It’s very nice.

Kissingenstraße 12: And is this festival political for you?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: No, not for me. I was born in Russia, and at the age of seven I moved to England, and my father moved to America, so when I was younger I went to America for three months once a year. My uncle who’s a musician, too, lived in Germany for a while and my grandmother lives in France. My family is so scattered around the world, and also as musicians we have no borders. We travel from place to place and we keep playing. I personally don’t have any strong opinions. I think anything that brings violence and hurts people is terrible and all the other stuff is just too complicated for my brain. There is nothing I can say, really, but I think playing music is a good way to forget about all of these things actually.

Kissingenstraße 12: And how did you find the violin as your vocation?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I have a musical family. My uncle plays the violin and his father plays the violin, my grandfather plays the viola, my mother is a pianist and there are more people in my family who play an instrument. So basically the violin kind of found me without having a choice. But I’m very happy and lucky that this is the case.

Kissingenstraße 12: Have you always played in a group?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: No, usually I play as a soloist. But I also have a trio, but here in Berlin we’re many participants. For example, yesterday I played a sonata with a pianist similar to István Várdai who opened the concert today. So basically, here everybody is a busy musician and there is no category. We have concert masters here from the best orchestras, we have soloist – we have everybody. In my personal case, I’m a soloist but I also play a lot of chamber music because I enjoy it very much.

Kissingenstraße 12: Do you think it is possible that more young people listen to this kind of music?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Well, tell your friends about it because I think people are a little bit scared as they don’t know what to expect. But usually they love it. You know, people who come and listen to this kind of music for the first time think it’s a good concert and they really enjoy it. I don’t really believe in all of these new ways, trying to make classical music more accessible by making something up. I think that if you play the music well, it can speak for itself. And this piece, this Mendelssohn octet, was written by him when he was only sixteen years old. Imagine how young he was, and how youthful, happy and optimistic. I think that his feelings are reflected in the piece. It is a piece for everyone, to play and to listen.

Kissingenstraße 12: And is it important to you that anyone can feel the music and enjoy listening?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Yes! I think it’s very significant. Again: There are different types of music; some can make you cry, some give you an emotional experience. I think that’s very important and it is also good for the soul.

Kissingenstraße 12: When I started my music lessons in high school something we always talked about is the importance of music for the sensibility of the people. What do you think about that? What’s your personal experience with it?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I would agree with that. Apparently there are scientific studies which show that if children are introduced to a musical instrument, even if they don’t do it professionally, it supports the development of their brain in ways that might not be possible without music. They’ve proven that, so this is already good enough for me. And of course, most of my friends are musicians and I’ve meet some of the most wonderful and interesting people through music, both listeners or musicians. Musical education should be implemented everywhere. I think that Germany is an exception. Actually this is the least fit country to tell that to. But in most other countries the arts are constantly cut, and music is just taken out of schools because some people think it’s not important and that the only things people need to follow is their career. I think even if you don’t do it as a career music is very important. I also feel the same about other subjects of the humanities which are not taught often. Mostly the focus is on maths and science. Of course you have to learn all of that, absolutely. I did too, but in my school I had art lessons as well as composition lessons, music lessons and also music history. It forms an opinion in young people. It’s like studying a language, studying books and literature.

Kissingenstraße 12: How is the situation in Russia for musicians?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I don’t live there anymore and haven’t been there lately. I don’t go there very often. It used to be the absolutely most amazing place for music. Now, it’s still using terms of concerts and culture. The conservatory might not be quite as amazing anymore but of course it still has a rich tradition of music and beautiful concert halls. There you can find a lot of history regarding amazing musicians who came from those places. So, it’s a wonderful place for music.

Kissingenstraße 12: What do you think about the other places you have lived at?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I’ve been living in London since I was seven years old. Again, I think that there, too, could be more music in high school, at schools for kids. I taught at the Conservatory in Manchester and also at the Music Conservatory in London and the Royal Academy, and I always found that in their first years of studying the students had had very limited training. It’s a shame because they really are behind those students who come from other countries, who have had music training in high school already. In England, there are four special music schools but other schools don’t really offer music classes. For me that’s a shame! I would like to see more music in different places.

Kissingenstraße 12: How do you feel about traveling around the world as a musician?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: It’s exciting. I’m very lucky because I’ve been to many places around the world which I would have never had the chance to go to without playing music. So I feel very, very fortunate to have this opportunity. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to see the places that we go to because most of the time we are working and rehearsing. Still, it’s a very inspiring and wonderful profession. It requires a lot of work but it’s worth it.

Kissingenstraße 12: What makes the experience of music so beautiful for you?

Alexander Sitkovetsky: I think every musical experience can be beautiful, really – things can be beautiful for different reasons. But first of all, the music itself is so incredible that you just feel lucky and enjoy playing it. Of course there are some concerts which are better than others, and there are those which linger in your memory more than others. But still, just the fact that we are playing this beautiful music is already a wonderful experience.

Kissingenstraße 12: Thank you very much!

Alexander Sitkovetsky: Thank you. Have a nice evening!

 

Von Lola

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