Can the Arts loosen Europe's boundaries?
"[...] After all, one of the essential parts of the festival was „The Soldier's Tale“ by Igor Strawinsky. The soldier exchanges his gun for a fiddle - just to lose it to the devil a short time after. The dancing performance, accompanied by the Camerata Innsbruck Ensemble and wonderfully choreographed by Daniel Renner, takes place on two levels: onstage and onscreen. The beginning mark CNN out-takes such as “Mosul Defense” and “ISIS Aussault” – signifying that the war is here and now, at Europe’s borders. [...] Greece plays an important role in the whole festival, which is symbolically pleasant. The continent of Europe is difficult to imagine without Greece. Nowadays, the country sees itself not only culturally but as well politically on the edge. It is continously beeing marginalized - and marginalizes itself. Next to Berlin and Innsbruck, Athens is the third location of Camerata. The outstanding greek conductor Maria Makraki is the artistic director since over 10 years now. Of course this is always a political message in itself to a certain degree. Nevertheless politics should not gain the upper hand - otherwise the art is suffering."
(Susannah Haas, in: Alpenfeuilleton 31.10.2016 )
Camerata Innsbruck enraptures audience
"Countless music lovers recently made their way to Innsbruck's Grosser Stadtsaal to witness accomplished European concert musicians live in Camerata Innsbruck's 'Babel & Apotheosis'.
They were treated to a stimulating programme of works that included E.TEMEN.AN.KI (Sumerian: temple of the foundation of heaven and earth) by the winner of the composer's award Manuela Kerer, as well as Beethoven's stirring 7th Symphony. (…) The ensemble's chief conductor Maria Makraki described a sweeping arc and the energy of her Greek temperament immediately transformed the group of musicians into an homogeneous orchestra that exploited the musical diversity to the full, conveying finest dynamics, contrasts, tension build-ups and increases with superb clarity."
(Manfred Hassl, in: Meinbezirk, 27.05.2013)
Young musicians “conjure up” the multifaceted sound of Christmas
"In two Christmas concerts in the Baroque town hall of Hall in Tirol, Austria and in the Emperor Leopold Hall in Innsbruck, the Camerata Europaea won over the audience with its eclectic and versatile repertoire, the professional ability of its young musicians and the expressive and dynamic performance of its conductor Maria Makraki. The two young soloists—Matthias Laiminger on the bassoon and Michaela Lengauer on the harp—also succeeded in captivating the audience and leaving a lasting impression. The colorful program of music, ranging from tragedy to Italian facility, provided the sizeable audience with an understanding of works by Periklis, Koukos, Berthold Hummel, Giovanni Battista Pescetti, André Chini, Hugo Wolf and Ottorino Respighi."
(Manfred Hassl, in: Tiroler Bezirksblätter, 04.01.2012 )
Old guard calls the tune — interview with the conductor Maria Makraki
- Why do you think there are so few female conductors?
That’s slowly changing. You can now find women who are studying conducting at all levels.
- How are the women in this field being disadvantaged?
As in all other professions, there are very few women at the top. This is not due to their lack of ability, but to the social realities as well as to the way our society works. Women are often at a disadvantage due to family reasons, and it is also not easy to overcome traditions and prejudices, especially in this profession.
- Have you experienced discrimination personally?
No, not really. Of course, you always have to convince people of your abilities. The first minutes are always crucial, but after that a person’s gender is no longer relevant. There will always be conservative orchestras and conservative musicians. But conducting is about communicating a concept, and women do that equally as well as men. As in any other profession, a conductor can have a great deal of assertiveness, charisma, musicality and authority.
- In this respect, does it make a difference whether you are standing in front of your own orchestra or an unfamiliar one?
Yes, there is a different. With your own orchestra you feel more liberated, more able to experiment and test, even cross boundaries. A pleasant but powerful musical atmosphere can be conveyed to the musicians to create a special – sometime even bombastic – tone-entity.
- What is your personal strategy for asserting yourself in male dominated hierarchies?
I don’t think about my gender. I always find the challenge lies in the tonal concept and interpretation of a composition, that this is accepted and then taken up by the musicians.
- How do you think this problem can be resolved? A women’s quota doesn’t actually work for the arts.
We need social structures that support women and relieve them of some of their family commitments. This would give talented women the chance to show their qualities and abilities. In the arts, a women’s quota could sometimes lead to women being discriminated against; I would be very careful about employing such methods.
- Thank you for talking to us.
(Antje Rößler, in: Neues Deutschland, 02.03.2011)
Gala concert in the Berlin Philharmonie marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus
"On April 30, 2010 one Cypriot and two Cretan musicians delighted a 1,000-strong Berlin audience in the Berlin Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse 1, with the premier of moments of a Face by Alkinoos Ioannidis. The skilful incorporation in the orchestral ensemble of the soloists, especially Yiorgos Kaloudis´ interpretation of the cello, lute and Cretan lyre was accomplished under the dynamic directorship of Maria Makraki ..."
(Nikolas Dunber, in: Nea Kriti, 28.05.2010)
The music of Slovakia in Berlin's distinguished Konzerthaus
"Peter Machajdik, the most frequently played Slovak composer in the German-speaking world, was himself present when the avant-garde orchestra Camerata Europaea presented two of the composer's own works in Berlin's distinguished Konzerthaus. Under the charismatic Greek conductor Maria Makraki the orchestra not only performed masterfully Machajdik's music in its "Rhythm & Strings" concert series, but also works by contemporary Cypriot and Greek composers. The performance received the financial support of the Slovak Institute in Berlin, in cooperation with the Bratislava Music Fund."
(Martin Sarvaš, in: Das Botschaftsnetzwerk of the Slovak Institute in Berlin, 28.4.2009)
A journey of discovery in the concert hall - "Rhythm & Strings" with the Camerata Europaea on November 30, 2008 in the Berlin Concert Hall
"The artistic director of the Camerata Europaea Maria Makraki, created and directed an innovative, rhythmically accentuated programme of "Rhythm & Strings" filled with discoveries: the lively, dotted, duple meter-based presentation of a Cypriotic folk dance Drepani for marimba and strings by the composer Savvas Savva; wonderful Tango arrangements by the Greek composer Periklis Koukos; an impressive performance of the Concertinos for bassoon and strings op. 27 b by Bertold Hummel (1925-2002); and an arrangement of metallic, spherical sounds in the debut performance of Georgios Kyriakakis' Clotho for piano with string orchestra and percussion. The tonal skills of the ensemble were equally as compelling: subtly playful in the Drepani, almost eerily exact the dots in the tangos, with just the right amount of melodiousness, brilliantly prepared for the bassoonist in the demanding Concertino, open for the unexpected in the interpretation of Clotho, the myth of Clotho (the 'spinner') the Greek goddess of destiny who spun the threads of life. Maria Makraki led the ensemble lightly and naturally through rhythmically challenging passages. She gripped the ensemble with her strong charisma, infusing it with her attentiveness and energy. Communication between the conductor and the musicians appeared amiable, as if they were sharing the common pleasures derived from this novel and varied journey of discovery through Europe."
(Meike Mieke-Konzertdirektion Berlin, in: Exantas Newsletter February 2009)
Art with a difference in Berlin - Greek sounds in the Atrium of the Deutsche Bank
"On December 22nd in the atrium of the Deutsche Bank the Hellenic community and the Greek Cultural Centre in Berlin presented a special Christmas tribute to public figures and key officials from politics and society. The audience was treated to a deeply moving performance by the CAMERATA EUROPÆA, whose declared aim it is to represent the musical culture of Europe. Under its conductor Maria Makraki the ensemble demonstrated its extraordinary knowledge of Greek art music with a performance of Greek dances by Nikos Skalkottas and the Suite Concertante by Periklis Koukos, which turned out to be a veritable treat for the ears. The obvious enjoyment and enthusiasm of the artists radiated into the audience and the standing ovations that followed this exceptional performance, together with the numerous requests for recordings and a repeat of the concert in the near future, confirmed the success of the evening."
(Monika Zwick, in: Das Botschaftsnetzwerk "DasCorps", 30.01.2007)
Christmas Gala on 22 December 2006
"...We chose to express our thanks with a performance by the CAMERATA EUROPÆA of works by Greek composers. The ensemble's aim of representing the musical culture of Europe, in conjunction with the artistic director's particular expertise for Greek art music, won the audience over as soon as the first tones were heard. Our enthusiasm knew no bounds as we were treated to Nikos Skalkottas' Greek dances from the 1930's and the Suite Concertante by the contemporary composer Periklis Koukos, works inspired by the traditional elements of our home country that deeply moved all present. This expert performance of the rhythmically challenging Greek works by the international ensemble of the CAMERATA EUROPÆA was an immense success. The musicians' pleasure and enjoyment in accessing works that are so rarely performed in this country was tangible, and we strongly believe they will also succeed in performing works from other European countries with an equally high level of musical flexibility. We marvelled at the ensemble's precise musical direction by the conductor Maria Makraki and at the apparent ease with which she directed the interaction between the ensemble and the pianist Dimitris Koukos, as though it were merely a congenial dialogue between equal partners. The enthusiastic applause at the end of the concert was followed by numerous requests by members of the enthralled audience for a recording of the works performed, or at least a repeat of the concert. We would like to thoroughly recommend the CAMERATA EUROPÆA as the leading authority on the European music culture."
(Achilleas Lykos, in: Newsletter of the Greek Cultural Centre Berlin, December 2006)
Comforting sounds for the world from a wunderkind - chamber orchestra performs benefit concert in the Johanneshaus
"...The Greek conductor Maria Makraki delighted us not only with her refreshing precision, but with a maturity that stimulated the Südwestdeutsche Kammerorchester into performing at their best..."
(Eckehard Uhlig, in: Pforzheimer Newspaper, 27.06.2006)
Bygone ages come back to life - Maria Makraki at the conductor's stand of the Baden Philharmonic
"...The way Stravinsky deals with early music has something refreshingly modern - and the conductor Maria Makraki ensured that this performance of his work was equally as modern. The differing musical worlds of the Baroque and the 20th century were brought together with light-hearted ease. The result was a pleasing, relaxed musical experience very much appreciated by the audience. After the interval the conductor treated the audience to a further programmatic delicacy. As in the previous works, elements of style from different epochs were united, this time in Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's Italian Symphony. The conductor Maria Makraki approached the symphony from the viewpoint of the Romantic. Even the first movement began unusually, leaving a lasting, but not uninteresting impression. Makrari is particularly disposed to strong, dynamic contrasts; she took the second movement with a refreshing lack of sentiment and after an unobtrusive third movement got down to business again with a lively and temperamental final movement. This was Mendelssohn at its best and most interesting, well deserving of the enthusiastic applause that followed."
(Karl-Heinz Fischer, in: Badische Neueste Nachrichten, 07.02.2005)
An Italian journey under Greek conductorship
"...Maria Makraki didn't hurry the other movements. This rendition contained little of the customary delightful melodious sound, but swept the audience along with its austerely expressive sonority. Maria Makraki directed with authority, inspiring great brilliance in particular from the winds..."
(Jutta Bergengruen, in: Badisches Tagblatt, 07.02.2005)
Cinema for the ears
"Maria Makraki conducted the melancholy and austere beginning to Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony in F minor with an appropriate sense of the epical breath of the composition. She demonstrated her sure sense for the lesser stories contained in the greater one, not strung one behind the other, but spread cohesively, as in a mosaic. With gracefully impeccable sounds she ensured justice was done to the surge of feelings in the 2nd movement, her body movements bearing witness to the sincerity of her involvement. She was demanding, and the orchestra responded eagerly. This altogether wonderful performance was brought to a close with a 4th movement based mainly on melancholy and literally everything that symphonic music has to offer, going immediately to the absolute limit and beyond, consistently colourful, full of unexpected twists, not afraid of bold sounds but absolutely convincingly and deftly toned..."
(Lars Siegen, in: Siegener Zeitung, 20.05.2002)
Crisp and with temperament
"The fascinating performance of the 5th Symphony in the Municipal Theatre on Tuesday came as no surprise to those who already know the young Greek conductor Maria Makraki. She has become a frequently requested maestra at international stands since achieving excellent grades in conducting at the Berlin University of the Arts, where she was taught by such luminaries as Sanderling, Giulini and Masur. [...] Maria Makraki cultivates a style that is literally rooted in the earth; she extracts her repertoire of clear gestures largely from the upper body and supple, precise, optically pleasing arm movements, as well as from the visibly strong enthusiasm for an orchestra to which she transmits her focus and vitality."
(O.L.-D., in: Gießener Allgemeine, 17.01.2002)
Jovial classical music - the Nuremberg Symphonic in the Serenade Courtyard
"The Nuremberg Symphonic had a surprise in store when presenting their medley of special treats ranging from the waltz to the cancan. They brought a comely conductor on to the stand. The young Greek conductor Maria Makraki performed with confidence in the genre, adapted to the differing dictions, struck the crisp and intimate tones and gave intensive impulses. She had been chosen for her Nuremberg debut by the conductors' forum of the German Music Council from the 'Tomorrow's Maestros' list. Maria Makraki appeared to be the candidate most likely to be able to conduct the music that, although 'light', is by no means easy to deal with either technically or artistically..."
(Fritz Schleicher, in: Nürnberger Nachrichten, 21.07.2001)
Maria Makraki, the young conductor of the Orchestra Academy of the Bergisch Symphony Orchestra, conducts the Christmas Concert
"The young conductor proved to be extremely compelling. Maria Makraki was always in command of the musical proceedings, her conducting precise and very expressive. The audience in the Municipal Theatre - which was filled to bursting - paid tribute to this enthralling Christmas concert with prolonged applause."
(Uwe Müller, in: Remscheider Generalanzeiger, 28.12.2001)
The meditative magic of music
"Maria Makraki once again directed an enthusiastic Bergisch Symphony Orchestra in a performance of this work, enchanting the audience with the almost meditative middle movement, a three part andante. At the end of the symphony the conductor played with only two violinists, who then went on to play the final bars on their own; the music was practically switched off. Impressively sensitive, but spirited conducting by Maria Makraki contributed as much to the success of the evening as did the genial symphonic musicians."
(Uwe Müller, in Remscheider Generalanzeiger, 29.08.2001)
Greek musician spurs orchestra on
"The scholarship awarded this season by the Orchestra Academy of the Bergisch Symphony Orchestra has gone to the Greek-born composer Maria Makraki. The almost instant understanding attained between Maria Makraki and the musicians at her first official concert, however, was in no way implicit, nor was their expressive and translucent rendition of the frequently played canon by Johann Pachelbel. It would appear that Maria Makraki is not only a highly talented conductor, but also a spirited full-blooded musician. It is to be hoped that we hear more from this promising scholarship holder in the coming concert season."
(Ulrich Mutz, in: Solinger Morgenpost, 30.12.2000)
Charisma and skill
"Although it was 'only' Strauss that Makraki was conducting, the Young Greek conductor's presence, charisma, personality and last not least, her craftsmanship, were striking. She shaped the harmony with precise timing and vivid gestures and brought out the best in her fantastic 'fellow players'..."
(Beate Lange, in: Remscheider Generalanzeiger, 03.05.2000)
The richness of Arte Povera - the BSO with Stravinsky, Jolivet and Mozart
"Surprise upon surprise. The first surprise: the small hall of the Concert house was sold out. The second surprise: all the members of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (BSO) under the Greek conductor Maria Makraki were bubbling with musical enterprise. The result: a concert as it should be; stimulating, entertaining, unconventional and virtuosic..."
(Klaus Geitel, in: Berliner Morgenpost, 01.03.1999)