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El Zar de la Batuta

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  • Do you perceive any difference between working and playing for Galician people? Is it your first time here?
I’m trying to be myself everywhere in the world. Yes, it is my first performance for Galician audience. And it is my honour and privilege to work with Orquesta Sinfonica di Galicia.
  • Is music an universal language after all? How many languages do you speak at this point?
I speak Russian, English, German, Italian. Music is my universal language! It helps me to find mutual understanding with musicians all over the world!
  • Working as an invited director may put you in difficult social situations, as introducing yourself a lot. Do you get tired of it? Is it important to be social?
It is all about the balance, openness, diversity and understanding the cultural background of people I work with to create great music together. I don’t get tired of introducing myself in different orchestras and opera houses around the world. I enjoy meeting new people. I have been re-invited to perform with all major orchestras following my debuts. I am rather active on social media and always share my music journey with friends and professionals all over the world that follow me on my media accounts. It helps to keep in touch and build professional relationship in the modern society.
  • Classical music is, somehow, always pushing but not a trend nowadays. How do you find yourself playing that specific music genre in the present environment?
For me classical music is my love, my life and my passion! I’m always happy to see young people at my concerts. I believe it is important to promote classical music through different channels to be able to reach out to young audience.
  • In your daily life, is classical music with you? Do you have any guilty pleasure?
Yes, classical music is always with me in my daily life. I also try to visit rehearsals and concerts of other conductors. My two daughters learn to play the piano and I really enjoy playing together with them. My hobbies are horse riding, diving and skiing.
  • Have you thought on changing your professional genre? Taking a chance or a risk in a different scenario.
No, I have never thought on changing my professional genre! I look forward to new challenges in my future life.
  • Is it hard to disconnect from work and not find mistakes on music that is freely playing?
Honestly, it is really hard! I can hear all mistakes, every instrument playing and unable to relax or disconnect, when I hear the music. It is a problem. I usually choose a restaurant without background music, so I can relax after a concert or rehearsal…
  • What do you think should be changed for get people's attention on classical music?
It will be great to make classical music widely accessible to young children. Singing in choir, learning instruments, having a chance to perform, attending family-friendly concerts - are important milestones in understanding the classical music. If every child will learn music notes at school alongside letters and numbers – it would have been another important step to get to love classical music. We tend to love what we understand and embrace. For example, my daughters - 5 and 7 have been visiting almost all my performances in St.Petersburg since very early age. Now they are interested to attend even the longest operas.
  • Did you forget any music composition playing live? Can you identify when someone is failing while playing?
Believe it or not I have never forgotten any music composition. It is impossible for a conductor who comes prepared to work. Normally you prepare new symphony or an opera for months or even years before you start to rehears it with an orchestra! If I identify when somebody failed while playing I try to correct mistakes during rehearsals or sometimes even during the concert. Everything can happen in a live performance.
  • How do you describe classical music to those who don't like it? We all try to convince about our taste.
I am convinced that there are no people who dislike classical music, they just haven’t had any experience of it yet. They think it’s something too complicated to understand and they will hardly appreciate a symphony of Brahms or Tchaikovsky… A night out at the ballet with friends will be their best pick. I know from the experience, as some of my non-musical friends were like that. They went to a concert once and now they are regulars at the classical concert halls. I can’t describe classical music – I can interpret and perform it for you. I can tell you a story through the music. Each “story” is unique. I invite everyone to attend my concerts where I will share my passion, my joy, my happiness, my story through the music.
  • Which composition brings you happiness when you need it?
Johann Sebastian BACH…
  • Do you know any present composer that you see as History in the future?
There are some talented modern composers, but only time will tell who will stay with us for years to come. I strongly believe the music of living composers must be performed on the stage.
  • How much does travelling affect you?
Travelling is a part of conductor’s job. And I enjoy it very much! Of course, long flights and jet lags can be difficult, but who said that life is an easy journey? 
9 Feb 2022, Galicia, Spain
Nico Carreira Pena