Stella Tziva, November 16, 2011

Camerata Europaea – a highly motivated and steadily growing orchestra
In the summer season of 2011, the Athens cultural centre About ran a conducting course under the leadership of the artistic director of the Camerata Europaea, Maria Makraki. During the seminar event, which will be repeated in Greece in 2012, Maria Makraki spoke to Stella Tziva about the course, the Camerata Europaea and the current situation in Greece. 

C. N.: Could you tell us something about the profile, activities and aims of the Camerata Europaea?
M.M.: The Camerata Europaea is a musical ensemble, which was founded in 2007 and is made up of outstanding musicians from different member states of the European Union. Their concerts are aimed at introducing a wider audience to works by contemporary European composers.  The idea behind concert series such as Music Plus, Spiritual Europe, Polyphonic Europe and Trio Europe is to develop representative programmes that bridge European countries whilst combining the traditional with the modern and the familiar with the unfamiliar, in this way awakening the interest of the audience for the richness of contemporary European culture. 

C. N.: Are you, as director of the Camerata Europaea, satisfied with what you have achieved so far?
M.M.: I would say that we are ambitious enough not to content ourselves with our accomplishments so far. We want to extend our radius even further and hope that by bringing different organisations and sponsoring bodies to the table we can use this to promote cultural exchange and European integration. 

C.N.: Do you see the conducting profession as being a male domain?
M.M.: Certainly not. Today, female students can be found at all universities where conducting is taught. In my view, the term conducting refers to the interpretation of a composition, the presentation of the work and my own perception of its specific sound.  I find this, together with the adaptation of the work by the musicians, to be a great challenge. A female conductor can assert herself through her charisma, her determination and her musicality. 

C. N.: Will you be bringing the Camerata Europaea to Greece again this year?
M.M.: In the coming season the Camerata Europaea is only planning to visit Greece once, to take part in the European Summer Academy. 

C. N.: Do you think there should be more national and professional orchestras in Greece? Does the necessary cultural and financial framework exist for such an undertaking?
M.M.: I would say that in this respect quality should come before quantity.  I sincerely hope that the difficult economic situation will not result in the dissolution of existing orchestras.  When times are hard, diplomatic cultural relations in the field of music should be more intensely focussed and purposeful.

C. N.: Does the Camerata Europaea’s repertoire also include the musical richness and specific regional flair of Greek works?
M.M.: Needless to say, our concert programme also includes works by Greek composers. Besides, I also have a strong personal desire to include works by contemporary Greek composers in specific concert series whenever possible. The Camerata Europaea is particularly open-minded with regard to the world premieres of ambitious works. 

C. N.: You have directed orchestras in Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Rumania, Greece and in Ukraine. What is the nature of the relationship between the conductor and the orchestra musicians? Is successful collaboration only possible if the ‘chemistry’ between the conductor and the orchestra is right?
M.M.: Of course, the ‘chemistry’ is a decisive factor, but that is something that is created over time. A conductor needs to be knowledgeable, skilled and an organisational talent, as well as have a personality capable of exerting a positive psychological influence on the working environment. 

C. N.: Tell us more about the European Summer Academy for Conducting that you will be holding in Greece. What is your aim and who can take part?
M.M.: The Camerata Europaea has a special interest in the promotion of talented young people. This is the reason it has developed training schemes, for example, by creating a youth symphony orchestra and organising annual courses within the newly established Summer Academy. The aim is the education of young musicians by eminent teachers so that students acquire a wide repertoire while developing their technical and musical abilities. In summer 2012 the Camerata Europaea plans to hold seminars on composition and flute in the Athens cultural centre About. After an assessment phase, young musicians will then have the chance to become involved in the youth symphony orchestra in the following season 

C. N.: Have any Greek composers or soloists from previous courses attracted particular attention?
M.M.: Following the last composition course in summer 2011 in the cultural centre About, we included the work ‘Transformation’ by the Greek composer Alexandros Georgiadis in our repertoire; it will be performed in April 2012 in the Berlin Concert House 

C. N.: So what works have you recorded with the Camerata Europaea so far?
M.M.: We have recorded works by contemporary Greek composers such as Minas Borboudakis, Periklis Koukos, Georgios Kyriakakis, Savvas Savva, Nikos Vihas and Alkinoos Ioannidis a.o., as well as pieces a.o. by Gustavo de Sá, Ronaldo Miranda, Peter Machajdik and Bertold Hummel.

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