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Romania and Moldavia WMD 1999 - Cristian Marina

 

 

Romania and Moldavia 25 september - 8 october 1999 
-report from the events in Bucharest and Cluj, 
Romania, 25 september-1 october 1999- 
by Cristian Marina
 
To be honest I was considering some time to entitle this report either "David vs.Goliath" or "A size too big", trying to describe this festival in only a couple of words. It’s quite obvious that I want to reveal the huge amount of energy and time investment done by the composer Nicolae Brandus, the artistic director of the festival and the president of the romanian ISCM-section, together with the artistic committee, in their effort to bring to Romania this prestigious cultural event for the first time in the society’s 77-years history (mentioning that Romania is a member since 1925, with an interruption between 1940-1990). Despite the straitened economical circumstances and the general lack of interest and professionalism manifested by the managers and the rulers of the romanian cultural-lifes’ destiny one managed to carry through an event of such proportions. 
Although in the programme-book of the festival we could read "messages" from the presidencies and the culture ministries of both countries, only some of these hurried on to secure in due time the necessary minimum of the financial conditions for a well-working festival of such proportions. In addition the practical part of the organization of the entire event was committed to the romanian concert agency Artexim, which together with the local organizers proved a great lack of initiative and organisation, creating quite often chaotic and agitated moments, leaving behind a feeling of general uncertainty and indifference. 
Furthermore the national and local mass-media (except the national radio, that recorded all the concerts) proved the same atitude of indolence, without understanding the importance of such an event for the national cultural interest. "One deserve to blame both the national and the private televisions for the displayed indifference towards this cultural event of world significance, at wich these shone by their absence". 
Similarly to other countries even the romanian cultural policy cannot avoid to attribute the "Cinderella-status" to the contemporary music. I mean that in Romania there were already organized concerts and festivals of incomparable larger proportions and costs: millions of dollars invested in pop-stars’ and Pavarotti-concerts, or the over-ambitious "George Enescu"-festival, with the participation of the most famous artists and orchestras of the world, a real financial trial of strenght, infortunately to the prejudice of, among other necessities, the budget for the ISCM-World Music Days, for instance, limited at much less than 1/8 of the budget allocated for the above-mentioned festival. 
Under the circumstances in which the artist’ condition is among the most pecuniary in the society, when the state-budget is modified during the budget-year with changings affecting directly the culture*, it’s obvious that it is a real gamble to get into organizing a contemporary music festival. (*One could notice at the opening concert, the members of the Symphony Orchestra of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic and the director of the philharmonic and the conductor Cristian Mandeal, as well as the composer-pianist Zygmunt Krauze, wearing white armlets, as a quiet protest against the recent budget modifings.) 
The geographic area on which the events of the World Music Days unfeld was extended over two countries and six cities, most of them, cities carrying a great tradition both in the romanian and the european culture. It seemed to me (consulting the statistics) that the main festival went off in Bucharest and Cluj (25 september-1 october) where the about 60% of the events took place. Related concerts were also organised in Timisoara, Iasi, Bacau and in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldavia (about 10% of the events). From this point of view this edition of the World Music Days is "not only different but also historic. Similar shared responsibilities have been tried before - Stockholm/Helsinki 1978, Toronto/Montreal 1984, and also in Essen 1995, when some neighbouring cities took part - but never to such an extent", to quote the swedish composer Arne Mellnäs, the president of the ISCM. 
According to Nicolae Brandus, in planing the festival programme two main criteria were primarly followed: first, an equal chance for all those who submitted their works to be performed within the festival, and secondly, every ISCM National Section, as well as of every non-member country, would be represented in the festival, with at least one work. 
Thus (as a summary statistic shows) the complete programme of concerts totalized 201 works of 175 composers from 49 countries, including almost all genres: instrumental-, vocal-, as well as electro-acoustic music/multimedia and instrumental theatre. From the 
227 works selected by the national sections (only) 90 works (40%) were selected by the festivals’ selection committee, whereas from the 110 works of the individual selection were performed 47 works (43%). The festival programe was completed/increased with 64 works not included in the above-mentioned cathegories. "Local cultural interests were also considered in structuring the artistic events" concluded Nicolae Brandus. Strong "local cultural interests" ruled at Timisoara where the marathon-concert contained a total of 28 works from wich only 5 works selected by the ISCM-jury, and even more conspicuous was the programme in Bacau where it seemed that a festival was going off inside of the festival, made up of 34 works of only 10 composers, of which only 5 works selected by the ISCM-jury. Consequently, the festival programme was made up of 45% national selections, 23% individual selections and some 32% the festival’s "local cultural interests". As concerns the "equal chance for all those who submitted their works to be performed within the festival" one cannot pass by that some composers took advantage of the "local cultural interests", 5 composers enjoyed 4 works each performed during the festival, other 6 composers with 3 works each, and other 2 composers with 2 works each. 
The concert schedule was quite dense (sometimes suffocating, turning into marathon-like concerts lasting until very late in the night), 39 performances and recitals were grouped and disposed in 29 concerts: 7 symphonic-, 3 chamber orchestra-, 14 chamber music-, 3 electroacoustic/multimedia concerts, as well as 1 choir concert and 1 instrumental theatre performance. 
The General Assembly of the ISCM held as usual related to the festival its yearly sessions, in Bucharest between 26-28 september 1999. There were also organized three symposia in Cluj, dealing with "Interculturality and Identity in Contemporary Music Today", in Bacau, raising the issue "Quo vadis Contemporary Music today?", and in Chisinau (Moldavia), about "Promotion of New Music between East and West". 
The opening concert at the Romanian Atheneum put together works by Peter Tornquist (Norway),Lojze Lebic (Slovenia), Zygmunt Krauze (Poland), newly elected as honorary member of the ISCM, performing his "Second Piano Concerto", and Bent Sørensen (Denmark), whose"Symphony" turned out to be one of the most refined and succesfull works of the festival, performed coherently and nuancé by the Symphony Orchestra of the "George Enescu" Philharmonic from Bucharest, under the leading of Cristian Mandeal
At the same level of good quality of performing were situated all the other symphony- and chamber orchestra concerts, in Bucharest and Cluj, presenting a fairly reasonable choice of the repertoire (of course with some exceptions). 
Further we could listen the prestigeous chamber orchestra "Virtuozii" from Bucharest leaded byHoria Andreescu in the rather alienant work by Jukka Koskinen (Finland) called suggestively"Ululation", the "Concerto for cello" by Hwang-Long Pan (Taiwan), soloist Anca Vartolomei and the quite transparent "Sinfonola" by Alfredo Rugeles (Venezuela). The last work offered us another testimony of the great originality and skill of the "Nestor" of the romanian contemporary music-school, Stefan Niculescu in his work "Undecimum" dealing with a complex mixture of homophony, heterophony and ison (one-sound pedal) in a Byzanthine-inspired modal musical language. 
The Radio Chamber Orchestra of Bucharest conducted by Cristian Brâncusi presented in a clear yet ferm manner the colour-study "Interval 19" by Ernstalbrecht Stiebler (Germany), the soft and subtle "Canticello for violoncello and orchestra" by Thoma Simaku (Albania/England), soloist the young talented Andrei Kivu, and the chamber symphony "Parallels" by Karmella Tsepkolenko (Ukraine). In the second part of the concert we could hear the children cantata "Rimbaudiannisia MCMXCV" by Jorge Antunes (Brazil). 
The National Radio Symphony Orchestra under the leading of the experienced Ludovic Bács had to face 3 very different works, the ample vocal-intrumental symphony "Vocalizes of the Sea" byTheodor Grigoriu (Romania), Ismail Gajibekov’s (Azerbaidjan) "Flute concerto", soloist the french flutist Pierre-Yves Artaud, a very important, constant and devoted romanian music interpreter and promoter during at least the last decade. The "Concerto for violin and orchestra" by Per Mårtensson (Sweden), is built up on the interference and interactivity between the soloist and the ensemble, and on the other hand the computer-generated sound-processes, controlled (with a foot switch) by the young swedish virtuoso violonist Fredrik Burstedt, who showed flexibility and adaptability as well as an immense experience and understanding in performing contemporary music, particularly this very complex and difficult score. 
The Ars Nova ensemble from Cluj together with its leader and "soul" (since more than 30 years)Cornel Taranu struggled to gather up a very heterogeneous programme of wich one distinguish the "Nonet" by Kjartan Ólafsson (Iceland), a clearly expressed and tense work, and the first part of the opera-theatre "Oreste-Oedipe" by the above-mentioned Cornel Taranu (Romania), a work following the Greek tragedy’s like development, where the music is subordinated to the literary text, as in many of his works, commenting in short and concise signal-like passages the sung and recited parts. 
The last symphony concert in Cluj of the "Transilvania" Philarmonic conducted by Remus Georgescu aimed to present a programme based on instrumental concerts. The romanian violonist Dorina Mangra performed gently the agreeably flouting "Concerto for violin and orchestra"by Marcel Wengler (Belgium), the young hungarian pianist Kiraly Csaba performed briliantly the"Concerto for piano and orchestra" by Dubravko Detoni and the romanian saxophone player Emil Sein performed in an energetic manner the very tensed and loaded "Concerto for alto saxophoneand orchestra" by John Buckley (Ireland). The highlight of the evening was incontestably the "Concerto nr. 3 for flute(s) and orchestra - Magic circles" by Doina Rotaru (Romania), a work elaborated upon a cyclical archetype, crossed by an inner deep expressivity and a magic/ritual-like atmosphere. The very colourful flute part was "narrated" to us by the same faithfull performer of Rotaru’s music, the french flutist Pierre-Yves Artaud. The concert ended tumultuously with"Altaic Ritual" by June-Hee Lim (Korea). 
As usual in such ample events very much of the burden lied on the chamber-music concerts. Unfortunately, according to a significant part of the auditors as well as participants, these concerts turned out in an endless run over of anonimous and uninspired works, bordering very often the ridicule and the dilettanteism. 
Laudable in this context and deserving to be mentioned is the presence and the contribution of many young talented and skilful musicians, members of the many chamber ensembles we could hear during the festival, facing many times quite ungrateful scores: Pro Contemporania ensemble, Game percussion ensemble both from Bucharest, Pro Musica Nova and The Percussion Ensemble of Cluj, Camerata ensemble of Iasi. Nevertheless the romanian contemporary music scene is very much depending upon the experience and the routine of the main ensembles: Ars Nova (Cluj), Archaeus and Traiect (Bucharest), Trio Contraste (Timisoara) etc. 
Trying to set out some reference points among the presented chamber-music works, one could mention the suggestive "Intimacy" by Vladimir Scolnic (Israel), the sensitive "À la recherche..." byJean-Luc Darbellay (Switzerland), the colourful "Morning Hill" by Clarence Mak (Hong Kong), the abstract "Space and rhythm" by Tiberiu Olah (Romania), the well controlled "Puls" by Tapio Tuomela Finland), the wistful and poetical "The Legend of Dreams" by Ulpiu Vlad (Romania), 
the architectonical "Undulation A for piano" by Makoto Shinohara (Japan), the meta-music "Epiphora" by Pawel Mykietyn (Poland), the very concise "Pulsations" by Anatol Vieru (Romania) or the archetipal "Le temple du Silence" by Gheorghi Arnaudov. 
A particular show unfolded under the sign of the acoustic mirage represented the electroacoustic music concert of Meta Duo (France), with Daniel Kientzy on saxophones (a faithful promoter of the romanian music) and Reina Portuondo controlling the electronics. 
One distinguish "Ritual violet" by Jorge Antunes (Brazil) in wich the composer interweaves in an impressive manner the instrumental and the electronic sources, as well as the delightful and inciting "Lisboa, tramway 28" by Elzbieta Sikora (Poland), also dominated by the refined alloy of the acoustic and electronic means. 
A really unique performance, considered as instrumental theatre, was "Bizarmonia" by Nicolae Brandus (Romania), a cathartic, frenetic and full of verve setting, putting together on the one hand, live all-in-one performers/instrumentalists/mimes/dancers on the scene performing instrumental fragments, and on the other hand a tape-collage made up of mainly fragments of his vocal works as well as recited parts. 
Among the other multimedia and electroacoustic works one can distinguish the both humorous and inventive "Paganihilismo" by Dieter Kaufmann (Austria) or the intimate, text-based "Löpa Varg"by Anders Blomqvist (Sweden), but in general the electroacoustic music works were dominated, similarly to the chamber-music or choir works, by the same flatness and vapidness, very few of these suggesting an interesting and at all personal musical approach. 
Finally it should be mentioned also the good quality of the programme book, providing comprehensive informations about the composers and their works, as well as clear programe schedule upon the events’ evolvement. The concert venues were many and diverse enjoying very different standards, some of them lovely architectonical jewels, not always endowed with the best acoustics. 
Instead of conclusion one express the hope that the next time when Romania will host the World Music Days all the guests will have the oportunity to carry through Nicolae Brandus proposal to continue the "Searching for Dracula’s castle", started during the festival but left unfinished due to the straitened economical circumstances. 
Cristian Marina 

 

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