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A Conversation with the Female Finalist of the Young Conductors Award - Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

17 APR 2012

published in: Concert

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (Photo: Tomas Kapocius)
On April 28 and 29, the Award Concert Weekend takes place for the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award at the Felsenreitschule. We would like to introduce the three finalists to you and have asked them a few questions about themselves, their love for music and the finale which they are about to compete in. In three subsequent blogs, you can get an impression of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Christian Baldini and Jamie Phillips. Following the motto “Ladies first,” we begin today with the Lithuanian Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who conducts the Camerata Salzburg with soloist Dan Zhu on April 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

1) What does it mean for you to be finalist of the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award?
To me, it is a gift and a great joy. The joy of preparing a concert with three masterworks and such a high-carat orchestra as the Camerata Salzburg. The joy of approaching the world of the Salzburg Festival – a paradise for music which I have never yet experienced live. The joy of revisiting my second (after three years of studying in Graz, this feeling remains) and musical (I owe many decisions and developments to this country) homeland Austria, and to be active there once again.

2) What comes to your mind when you hear the words: Salzburg and Salzburg Festival?
When you hear the name “Sony”, you immediately think of the highest technical qualities. The words “Salzburg Festival” cause a similar feeling. And I cannot breathe the Salzburg air without thinking that I am being nourished by the air that Mozart breathed.

3) What is your musical guideline, what drives you in your career? Do you have a role model?
The most important thing driving my wish to live for and with music is music itself. From it, you draw the strength and the inspiration to continue on your way – I don’t like the word “career” very much. Another source of inspiration lies in the colleagues and musicians we work with. As a conductor, you have to live through many lonely hours – it is impossible to achieve profound knowledge of your scores without experiencing the phenomenon of being “alone in the desert”. Still, in a certain way we are less lonely than many other musicians. A pianist may want to speak to the audience, but this always has the character of a monologue. One of a conductor’s main tasks is to communicate, to moderate, to absorb the impulses coming from others and to react to them. The experience that “music means together” is a huge gift. Of course there are role models – other conductors from whom we learn. The best and the most beautiful thing is when every colleague, not just the great conducting geniuses, becomes a teacher. One should never think or say: I can do it better. It’s much better to be happy that the other person has gifts that are different from mine, and to try to absorb some of that, and thus become richer.

4) What does music in general mean to you? What do you want to achieve in your life?
When I was younger, I liked to compare music to a person. A person who is always expecting you, who listens, who rewards you tenfold for your efforts and your attention. I still feel that music has these qualities. However, the common experience I mentioned already is becoming more and more precious to me, this birthing of music together. One the one hand, to live music as a profession – as a CALLING – is a privilege. I try to be conscious of this every moment and to be infinitely happy because of this. On the other hand, music is hard work which – like any other occupation – demands endurance, patience and labor – the more professionally the music, the more important these elements are. I am also moved by the idea of sacrifice. A serious decision to follow this calling of music is an obligation and means foregoing many things. Personally, however, I also feel and love this ascetic moment which leads to bliss.

5) What was your most inspiring experience in your profession?
Making music becomes an extremely inspiring experience whenever personal passion is present and the wonder of MUSIC is shared.