Moscow City Symphony
Russian Philharmonic
ГБУК г. Москвы «Симфонический оркестр Москвы «Русская филармония»

"We work non-stop - like a factory." Director of the orchestra "Russian Philharmonic" about new formats and unprofitable tours

Forbes Woman
Дата публикации: 
Wednesday, 11 October, 2017

Director and General Producer of the Moscow Orchestra Gayane Shiladzhyan on whether it is possible to attract new audiences to the concert halls and compete with the recipients of grants.

The idea of creating a capital orchestra came to the head of the pianist Gayane Shiladzhyan in 1998, after the impending default, and she addressed her to the Moscow authorities. Two years later the Moscow City Symphony Orchestra "Russian Philharmonic" was born.

Gayane told Forbes Woman how the orchestra's repertoire combines classical music and rock, as well as live-cinema concerts and multimedia projects.

How did you choose for yourself the way of the manager, the leader of a huge team?

I devoted part of my life to the "New Opera" and "Helikon-Opera", stood at their origins - probably, it all began at that time. After about ten years, I realized that it was interesting for me to lead myself, to analyze what was happening in Moscow, and found out that at that time in the city there were almost a hundred concert organizations, more than a hundred theaters - and not a single big symphony orchestra of urban subordination.

You are a pianist by education, but you also have a financial and economic institute behind you. Does it help in team management, building work?

Since the time when I studied, much has changed, in particular, the laws have changed: then there was not even an idea of contests, tenders. However, a good basic education has not prevented anyone. Musical helps me in forming the repertoire, and the financial helps me understand what problems need to be addressed and what specialists are needed for this.

You analyzed the situation, and you had an idea to create a capital orchestra, while all the rest were federal subordinates.

First I moved from "Helikon-Opera" to the orchestra "Russian Philharmonic TV-6 Moscow". At that time the TV-6 channel supported the orchestra, financed it, before my arrival it already existed for two years and gave 5-6 concerts a year. I came in May 1998, in August default occurred, and since September, the financing of the orchestra by the channel has ceased. This made me think about what to do with the team further - dissolve or seek a way out of the situation.

In September 1998, there was a first letter to the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, with a proposal to create a Moscow symphony orchestra based on the orchestra "Russian Philharmonic TV-6 Moscow". And to this day it employs five musicians from the old line-up.

Did you immediately present Luzhkov a new concept?

The concept was still incomprehensible. The project was not immediately created as a concert organization. First there was a unit - a symphony orchestra. In Moscow, where we had to compete with such well-known orchestras as the BSO them. Tchaikovsky, GASO them. Svetlanov, NFOR, RNO, orchestras of musical theaters, it was necessary to declare about themselves.

In 2008, the mayor of Moscow provided exceptional conditions for the sole orchestra of Moscow: the financing that we now have (since 2008, unfortunately, it has not increased, but on the contrary), that's proof. But alas, financially we are uncompetitive in comparison with federal orchestras.

That means, you are now on self-sufficiency, or ?

We are a symphony orchestra of non-federal subordination in Moscow and are financed from the city budget. Since 2005, the Russian President has been granting grants to creative teams, orchestras and theaters to support musical art. This is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture: all orchestras of federal subordination receive a 90-million grant from the President, and next year it is planned to index this amount by about 40%. In addition to the grant, all of them still have funding for their salaries. Unfortunately, in Moscow there is no provision for grants, we (the Moscow Philharmonic Society's Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra) have all the funding for the salary per year of only 98 million. To keep the average salary of the musicians of the Russian Philharmonic, we have a lot work to pay extra from the extrabudgetary. With grantees, it is impossible to compete financially.

What are your main sources of income and the main items of expenditure?

"Russian Philharmonic" earns about 30 million rubles a year by concerts. Part goes to surcharges and bonuses for the staff of musicians, some for advertising, the remainder for invited soloists.

A tour activity?

Tour activity is mostly unprofitable. This theater can come in a small collective, and the symphony orchestra is connected by its number and large musical instruments. 100 people to transport round-trip, pay a costly hotel. Many of our tours took place thanks to the Department of Culture, which sometimes compensates for 50% of transportation costs. Last tour was at the presidential center "Sirius" in Sochi, the Department gave us 500 thousand rubles as compensation, and the rest we covered from the fee. In fact, we did not earn anything.

That means, the tour activity does not interest you as unprofitable?

We now have a lot of offers on tours: and Latin America, and Central, Europe and Asia - all offer to come, but only if we ourselves can pay for the road. And this - you know.

But on tour we go every year. Not so long ago, there was a debut at the Royal Festival Hall in London, in Brucknerhaus in Linz, at French music festivals in Besancon and Lyon. We are playing exclusively the Russian program: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.

Is the program already formed for the new season?

Yes, there are things experimental for the orchestra: both sites and special projects. We opened on October 7 with "Rakhmaninov's Masterpieces" in the Svetlanovsky hall of MMMM, Rachmaninov's last work - "Symphonic Dances" - is one of the most difficult for the orchestra, and this is an exam for the "Russian Philharmonic". October 11, "Mad dances" with the conductor Fabio Mastrangelo, which we are doing this year in the Kremlin Palace, is a gala show, a mixture of classical and modern works. We showed him at the House of Music many times, but the Kremlin's playground gives an opportunity to show the dances themselves.

And what about special projects?

There will be a new concert - the Halloween show "Devil's Trills". We refer to compositions that were associated with otherworldly motives, mysticism. The composer Tartini, who composed this work, imagined that Lucifer had visited him at night. And he, without taking off his pencil, wrote it completely in the morning. A lot of mysticism goes around the personality of Nicolo Paganini, and the "Rhapsody on the Paganini theme" will sound - such a supernatural concert. Solo will be the violinist Leo Schreiber and pianist Sasha Sinchuk - the golden fund of young performers up to 30 years old.

As for the age structure of your orchestra, in addition to those few old-timers, mostly young musicians?

In the "Russian Philharmonic" is basically a young musicians, because they feel differently. In addition, we have a busy concert schedule - only in October 17 concerts! We need to rehearse all of them, and we work non-stop - as a factory. Such a rhythm of life not everyone will survive. We have musicians of respected age, but these are the most likely exceptions, but mostly to everyone from 30 to 45 years old.

You say "factory" - is it necessary to sacrifice quality because of so many concerts and busy schedule?

It is necessary because of such a young band of the orchestra to sacrifice the fact that I have 12 people in the decree. No, of course, first of all quality is important to us. The orchestra assembles musicians who can play with the dress rehearsal. We have a series of classic programs and cover versions - it's like honing your skills: you can swipe a needle and sew two canvases, and you can embroider a tiny pattern. When we play classical works, we embroider with smoothness: every musician here confirms his professional level, his orchestral skill - this is what is valued. And when we play Queen and ABBA on cover songs, we need to show a different style of play. We do not invite anyone from outside: the lytavist plays the drum set, the bass players on the bass, and the pianist who plays the Mozart concert, quietly transposes the keys and plays Queen.

Orchestra as a kind of universe?

Of course. It is also important who is behind the conductor's panel. I saw only two conductors who can equally well conduct both classical and rock concert - this applies to our Dmitry Yurovsky and Fabio Mastrangelo. Then there is a clear distinction: it's a classical conductor, it's a song, it's a ballet, and it's a rock conductor. And it is right. Everyone knows his niche very well, like the style in painting. One of the first concerts that turned the history of the orchestra "Russian Philharmonic" to expand its capabilities is our cooperation with the legendary John Lord. By the way, we are the only orchestra that played with both musicians from Deep Purple: Ian Gillan and John Lord.

The audience that comes to your classical evenings and cover shows are different people?

I do not want the words "symphony orchestra" to cause rejection from the general public, and most importantly, from the youth. We are expanding our audience through non-standard symphony orchestra concerts. Now it's such a time that classical works also become cult hits. We work with our public, and it seamlessly switches from classical concerts to rock concerts and vice versa.

Are commercial covers more successful?

Of course, because the covers have more audience.

In your repertoire there are also live-cinema concerts, what is this format?

Live-cinema concerts - this is when a full-fledged film is going on, and the whole musical series: soundtracks, accompaniment - is played by a live orchestra, from the first titles to the last. Here you begin to understand exactly what music is inextricably linked with the action of the film, to realize the importance and scale of the composer who wrote the soundtrack. In the repertoire and the Titanic, and Gladiator, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Lord of the Rings, and the Godfather.

A visual multimedia projects?

This is one of the first experiments that I started studying back in 2006. At first they decided to make the project "Fairy tales in Russian music": it was "Humpbacked Horse", "Tale of Tsar Saltan" and "Golden Cockerel". The combination of music and fairy tale was obtained - both on the walls in the form of pictures, and in the form of text read by famous actors: Konstantin Khabensky, Chulpan Khamatova, Sergei Kolesnikov, Sergey Bezrukov. The project for acquaintance of children with a fine world of music has turned out. After that, I wanted to do something more ambitious, for the prepared public.

And you have chosen the cantata "Carmina Burana" Orff.

Yes. The composer himself wrote on the score that it was a cantata for a mixed choir, orchestra, soloists and dances with magical paintings - I decided to use pictures of the early Renaissance. For the first time, the entire space of the Svetlanovsky Hall from floor to ceiling was filled with animated paintings: Bosch, Brueghel, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael. We added more video projections - the fire, the wheel of Fortune.

The next two projects are "Scheherazade" and "The Sacred Spring". By the centenary of the Diaghilev seasons we took in the Bakhrushin Museum sketches of the costumes and scenery of Roerich and Bakst, digitized, created video projections. The newest multimedia project - Verdi's Requiem and Renaissance masterpieces - is perhaps the most powerful in perception. This is a pre-Easter concert, we always try to put it on the Passion Week. By December we are preparing Christmas Gala in the House of Music with Fabio Mastrangelo in the traditions of Catholic Christmas.

You experiment all the time, experiments influence how your repertoire is formed, on projects, on advertising - what is it dictated by?

Now is the time - the public needs to be interested. You hang a poster of an ordinary concert - no one will pay attention. Mentality in modern people is such that they want something interesting, new, unusual. The hard part is to come up with an idea. We are limited only by seven notes, no one else invented anything.

If you talk about cover versions, your rock concerts, do the public always cheer them up?

Some are skeptical: only the original can be better than the original. And if the original is no longer, these masterpieces should be forgotten? Rakhmaninov's concerts after his death are played, there are different interpretations, and they all live.

Ekaterina Pisareva

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su