Over his lifetime, conductor Alexander Anisimov has remained committed to his music. He is known as a hermit but graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory’s Choral Conducting Department. Since then, he has held a ‘magic baton’ for conducting symphony orchestras. His biography is full of ‘love confessions’ from the world’s leading musical teams. Critics highly praise him and Belarusians are always awaiting new musical surprises from the conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Belarus.
Alexander, why did you connect your life with music?
Music is my oldest dream. As a child, I had many hobbies unconnected with music: radio, photography and experiments in chemistry... I liked everything high-tech. I had a love for life, always looking for a response. I couldn’t read music until I was twelve, although I sang and danced well. Later, I learned a five year programme over just six months. Since then, I’ve been inseparable from music.
Why does music take us captive?
In my opinion, music amazes us as nature does. Sounds are unique. You can synthesise them artificially, but nothing is like a live voice or an orchestra. As far as the audience is concerned, there are two levels. The first comes to concerts to listen to the music, enjoy the atmosphere, to see and be seen. The others are advanced — keen to see a certain performance or artist.
Is it possible that audiences will love Belarusian composers’ works?
Absolutely. Let me give you an example. We came to Vitebsk to give our first concert in twenty years. The programme consisted of two parts: Tchaikovsky and the works of our compatriots — Dmitry Smolsky and Galina Gorelova. The audience rose in applause. Good music is not limited to geography. Our music is wonderful enough for us to be proud of it and to demonstrate it to the world. I think that the works of Belarusian composers Glebov, Cortes and others are unique. I’m always glad to see young composers creating their own works. We often tour the province. Speaking of the difference between listeners, I’m confident that there is no difference: people visiting our concerts listen to the music with their hearts.
We often read in the annotation to a concert that a maestro will interpret a certain work. How do you interpret music?
This is a serious question because of adaptations and various versions — even Bach can be played differently. Each conductor has his own view, relayed in musical tones and pauses — which reflect the maestro’s emotions and attitude towards the work. I’m no exception. The orchestra is an organism whose pulse beats in your hand. The personality of the conductor influences the collective and vice versa. It’s hard to make contact so not everyone can conduct. Musicians have taught me tolerance and humanity. Generally, there are two types of conductors — dictators and democrats. The second leads, sharing his thoughts and borrowing from the collective’s ideas. Sometimes, you have to be a dictator. If you aren’t, you aren’t worth a brass farthing. Still, I’m a democratic conductor because I love my orchestra — the State Academic Symphony Orchestra — and have many plans for us.
And what are your plans...
As for Belarusian music, we will gladden audiences with Sergey Cortes’ opera ‘The Bear’ by Chekhov. The soloists of the national opera, our symphony orchestra and a special guest from France — violinist Olivier Charlier — will take part in this project, with an unusual combination: in the first part, the Frenchman will play, and, in the second, our soloists will perform a Belarusian opera. I have one more idea. I want to perform Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony with the help of three or four symphony orchestras and dedicate it to the 65th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from the Nazis. The importance of this event lies in the fact that our victory in the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) preserved our performing arts. Accordingly, Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ — performed by 400 musicians — will form the second half. You are welcome to come to the Philharmonic Hall. Don’t be afraid. Keep your eyes wide open, listen to nature and the kind words of your relatives, and you will hear interesting and beautiful music. It is important for you to overcome something, venture upon a new step and take an important decision. Don’t be afraid to live with your eyes wide open!
Music touching hearts
Over his lifetime, conductor Alexander Anisimov has remained committed to his music. He is known as a hermit but graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory’s Choral Conducting Department. Since then, he has held a ‘magic baton’ for conducting symphony orchestras. His biography is full of ‘love confessions’ from the world’s leading musical teams. Critics highly praise him and Belarusians are always awaiting new musical surprises from the conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Belarus