When orchestra is a family

Belarus’ State Chamber Orchestra celebrates 45th anniversary
By Irina Akulovich

The troupe has toured almost every corner of Europe and, not long ago, performed on Italy’s top stages, accompanying outstanding pianist ElisoVirsalaze. Over the years, Svyatoslav Rikhter, Mikhail Rostropovich, Victor Tretyakov, Mikhail Pletnev, Paul Badura-Shkoda and Yuri Basmethave performed with the Orchestra. Meanwhile, several world premieres have been prepared under the guidance of Honoured Artiste of Russia YevgenyBushkov — the Orchestra’s Artistic Head and Chief Conductor. 

Mr. Bushkov shares his thoughts on the achievements of the State Chamber Orchestra.

Is 45 years a notable anniversary?
From a musical point of view, not particularly, although the troupe is viewed as ‘elderly’. However, I hope that we can still rouse listeners’ emotions and send powerful messages.

When did you meet the troupe?
In 2007, I was invited to Minsk and was surprised by the Orchestra’s vitality. The musicians were so passionate that I couldn’t refuse the invitation to work with them. Being part of an orchestra is like family life, with its mutual interests. Without unity, it’s better to disband, keeping hold of good memories.

What was the Orchestra like at that time?
It was on an emotional high. I felt as if they had been waiting for me and were pinning great hopes on me. It was a priceless feeling and called on professionalism which could hardly be realized immediately. Over the years, I’d belonged to chamber orchestras of the highest level. I was lucky that the Orchestra was at the top of its game when I joined. Four years on, it’s hard for me to evaluate my contribution, since it’s long enough to have achieved something yet too early to draw conclusions. In this respect, it’s useful for me to step back every now and again, to be objective. 

What difficulties do you face as the Orchestra’s Artistic Head and Chief Conductor?
The difficulties remain unchanged, being financial.  

What are the concerns and traditions of the State Chamber Orchestra?
Our traditions are based on our native Belarusian conscientious work ethic and our collective sense of self-worth. This is rare in modern times and should always go hand in hand with placing strict demands on oneself. Each of our musicians knows that he or she is a member of an elite troupe.

How has the Orchestra transformed since your arrival?
We’ve progressed but I can hardly assess the degree objectively. Our membership has changed slightly as, over the past six months, several young musicians have joined us. I’m pleased, since it brings strength, energy and vitality
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