Sunday, 19 October 2008

America

Well, it’s quite a few days, since I’d written last message… Good excuse is that I’ve been extremely busy doing concerts in Royal Albert Hall and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, and then had a long and intensive journey to Cincinnati, Dallas and finally back to Europe –at the moment in Amsterdam.
First things first – week in UK was very exciting, Classic FM concert in London been “the best show in last few years” as directors of FM declared. I would say it’s been a very good show despite of horrible travel day before (took me 6 hours in Virgin Train, some idiot opened fire on trains, and we spent 3,5 hours in Nuneaton), some rude jokes of presenter… but soloists this time (Kate Royal, Alfie Boe amongst them) been excellent, and their dresses been VERY exciting ;)). Fireworks at the end, as usual, made everyone happy and deaf.
Verdi in Cathedral, it’s been very special and spiritual event, if you missed it, you really missed something. Choruses did stunning job, soloists “top class” and well shaped orchestra plus atmosphere and huge audience – all made this evening remarkable! For me personally – I conducted Requiem first time in my life, while sung it as a boy and as a teen more than 10 times, I thought about this concert for a months and enjoyed every minute of performance!
Next morning I flew to US (first time I’ve quite liked long flight, because of opportunity to sleep and study quietly after few crazy weeks!), Cincinnati is true American city with all good and bad about it. German immigrants built a very nice and big (3500 seats!) theatre, but all their houses around it now half-abandoned, so, of course, there are big problem with audience: I’ve got half-a-hall for two concerts with popular programme, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich, but producers said it’s very good by attendance! Actually, I’m always amazed by American cities – they looks very powerful in downtowns and picturesque with its modern stadiums, concert halls, highways and statues, but it’s such a different world if you go closer! Office workers driving in their cars inside skyscrapers, parks there, go up to their offices, taking lunch also within building in “food courts” and driving home or shopping areas outside city. If you walking downtown in a daytime, you’ll see people, mainly with very little, who, I suppose, sell some bad things or ask for a change. At the same time if you go inside a building, it’s “golden and posh” there! And distance between “well done” area and “poor” is just 20 meters… Anyway, back to music, concerts had a very positive review, orchestra looked happy and satisfied.
If you heard, that in Texas everything is big – it’s almost true! Dallas starts from airport, which have 8 (?) terminals and distance of about 30 miles from city centre. If you ask for a cappuccino, don’t choose large, please! I did once, its size of two pints!!! Jaap van Zweden, chief conductor of Dallas Symphony, was very kind and offered me to stay in his flat (while he did his debut in Chicago), and what a flat it is! I’ve been lost there on the first day, couldn’t find way to my bedroom )), and it’s not only big, but very stylish and modern with all gadgets (I didn’t discovered even half of them!). Playing Heldenleben four times in three-and-a-half days is very exhausting for everyone, especially if you couple this in programme with Sibelius and Stravinsky, but I did enjoy performances of this great piece – also did it for a first time. Orchestra have stunning soloists, great potential and if they are even more eager to improve themselves, they will be amongst the very top orchestras in US!
This week I’m in Holland, working with Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, concert is tomorrow in Concertgebouw, I think it’ll be absolutely great – feel very strong connection with orchestra and chorus is one of the best in Europe!
P.S. Concert in Amsterdam went really well, with a lot of enthusiasm from audience…

17 comments:

jill said...

It's interesting to hear a view of America from a different culture, although you are widely travelled. You are right - underneath the brash and shiny exterior, there is an underclass that is barely acknowledged never mind cared for. It's as if they look down on people who fail to achieve the "American Dream". America somehow manages to be both very insular and yet still have unrestrained power to threaten the world and drag others along with them. Hopefully Barack Obama will change that if he is elected. The flat in Dallas sounds fabulous. I once visited a house in NY where my friend had been a domestic/nanny and it was hard to stop my mouth dropoping open with amazement. Joyce kept saying "Don't look too impressed!"
Do you get to St Petersburg to see your family and friends, or do you only go to Russia if you are conducting there? Looking forward to seeing you back in Liverpool on 5 November.

Jill

Vasily said...

Hi Jill,
to be honest, I'm not so bothered by underclass in US - in every country it's exist! At the moment I'm in Budapest, and seen a lot of poverty in a last few days here. What is strange for me:
- in States people never sincer enough, only if they talk about sport or weather, they telling you what they want to say;
- all around the world most of the people at the bottom of social piramide prefere to do nothing or do illegal things, rather then work hard in a low-paid jobs.
I can understand humanism and helping to the old or sick people and even think, that everywhere goverments support not enough pensioners and other people, who spent theuir life to the glory of country; but from what I've seen, all programmes of "giving food to the people on the streets" are mostly profanate and provoke them to wait for help, rather then look for work.

jill said...

Hi Vasily. I think you are just a little unfair on those at the bottom of the pyramid. You have a tremendous work ethic, but some people are just unfortunate. It's a very greedy "dog eat dog" world out there and it's not always the good people who rise to the top. We have our share of scroungers and I am not defending them, but these days it is not as easy to blame individual people for their circumstances.
You seem to have been living out of the suitcase yourself for many weeks now, jetting here and there.
Jill

Robin said...

Vasily is hard on the underclass, but though I always err on the side of compassion and support the unfortunate, he does have a point about such support encouraging idleness. I'm more concerned with people misclaiming state benefits than with possible abuses of support systems by people on the streets. I think a lot of them have real problems. I hope that Barrack Obama is elected President of the USA and will deal with some of these problems, but he won't affect what Vasily sees as 'insincerity' in American people. I know loads of wonderful and sincere Americans, but as a nation they can come across as ignorant and shallow. To music Vasil: all the concerts this season excellent - and Verdi absolutely terrific! Looking forward to Tchaikovsky on 6 November and then especially excited at the thought of you conducting Bruckner. Before that, have a great time in London with the kids from Kensington - a really great project from the Phil.

Vasily said...

Hi Jill,
about being unfair to the people from bottom... well, one of my rules is that I can forgive any mistakes, made by the people and always try to look for the facts from different point of view, but I never forgive if someone don't do anything, who don't even made an attempt. And to give you an example - when I've studied in Leningrad-St.Petersburg, about 4-5 other guys been more gifted, then me, but I'm always worked very hard and always pushed myself "over the limit"... Now I have what I have (even if I finding almost every evening, that I might have done this day better, then I did!), and they have almost nothing. To be clear, I feel very sad about them, because it's lost opportunity for the art and society, and I try to support them - suggesting them to local orchestras, give them a chance in other countries - but they sometime even decline it due to jellousy and fake (as I think) pride. I think almost everyone have friends, who always wish the good things and in a bad time of your life will try to get you out from the bottom, but you need to wich it by yourself. Hemingway (or not him?): "We all passengers at the station "Life" and trains with title "Luck" passing a platform all the time. We need to know which one is ours and BE READY to jump in every moment."

Vasily said...

Hi Robin,
I wouldn't expect any significant changes from Barrack at social side - what I'm waiting from next US president is less spending on "democracy" in other countries (or cuts in military budget) and stabilising of economic situation within the country and in a world. And, to be honest, I admire America for their eager to be at the top of the world and their capabilities, but I think they've lost "the big enemy" a few years ago, and neither Russia, China or "World terrorism" are suitable for this role. And without "the big enemy" country lost a focus a little bit, what also cause economy problems.
To music ;)) - rehearsed today with Hilary Hahn, Tchaikovsky at 5th and 6th of November will be very interesting!

jill said...

Hi Vasily, we think alike on effort and opportunities. I am not defending people who don't try. I have been disabled for 30 years and have never considered giving up my "normal" lifestyle, including full time work and hobbies (amateur theatre and choral singing).However, the world is now a global village and sometimes a person's lifestyle can be pulled from under them by circumstances completely out of their control and occasionally they find themselves at the bottom of the heap, despite efforts not to be. I think a couple of generations ago that would not have happened, at least here in the UK.
I also agree about America, they have not adapted well to being the world's only super power. Perhaps its a lack of history, they are too young.
You have had such a big influence at the Phil, I really hope you stay after 2012 and get all that you want for the orchestra. I met Phil Redmond at the Tavener event and told him that you would be the real hero of 2008.
I will be at the Phil on 5 November(with my CD!). It's great to have you back in Liverpool.
Jill

Robin said...

Hi Vasily
Well, we'll soon find out who's going to be the Big Chief in the US, but a bit longer to find out what he does ... absolutely agree about reducing spending on 'democracy' in other countries; you can't buy 'democracy' or impose it, and war is always waste even when it's necessary. Economic things really need sorting out.

Forgot to say before how much I've enjoyed listening to the new recording of 'Manfred' - a pity it's not played more in concerts. Glad this week's concert will be 'interesting'! Greatly looking forward to Bruckner's 4th, which was on the programme of the first concert I ever attended at the Phil (1972 I think). I'd never been to a classical concert before - knew nothing about classical music - and it made me into a regular concert-goer, so someone's first concert doesn't have to be an easy one.

Robin said...

Oh, and how did the concerts in Germany and the Netherlands go Vasily?? A great success I hope!

Jane said...

Hi Vasily,

I hoped I could read a few words about your Europian concerts. How did the concerts in Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands go? How did you see them?

Nick said...

I was lucky enough to attend the Verdi Requiem in the Cathedral. It was a most inspiring performance. I think the smiles on the faces of the choirs, together with their applause at the end, said it all.
Many thanks

jill said...

Vasily, the concert tonight (5 Nov) was brilliant. I thought Hilary Hahn was fabulous, but the Fifth Symphony was spine tingling. You work so hard, its no wonder the orchestra (and audience) are inspired. Hope all the extra purchases for signing will get the CD to Number One!

jill

Robin said...

Absolutely wonderful concert on Thursday Vasily - I was exhausted (but thrilled) after the symphony, so I just can't imagine what you and the band feel like! At any rate, you should be very pleased with yourselves because you are doing such great tings for music and Liverpool. Greatly looking forward to Bruckner as I said before.

Robin said...

Hi Vasily

Can't say enough thanks to you and the orchestra for the wonderful Bruckner on Thursday night. Please do more Bruckner.

It's been so long since we had such fantastic concerts all the time that it seems like a dream!!

Robin

Vasily said...

Hi Robin,
sorry that I've kept silence for quite a long time - schedule is horrific in a last few weeks. Glad that you liked Tchaikovsky and Bruckner concerts, and looking forward for today's Brahms 4. Tour to Holland and Germany was very successfull, with a great reviews and very warm ovations from audience! And no major accidents in orchestra )))

Vasily said...

Dear Nick,
thank you for a words about Verdi Requiem - I think it's been a very special event. As a small advertisement - we plan Verdi Four Sacred Pieces at the end of September 2009, don't know at the Phil or Cathedral again...

Vasily said...

Hi Jill,
not sure that quantity of sold CD's are related with a choice of awards at the end of the year, but I'm glad that more and more people be able to listen to this underestimated Symphony of Tchaikovsky and discover his Simphonic Poem too!