On Stage I Am An Old Man, A Child, A Woman: An Interview With Nemanja Radulović
default, ico-kolor-2018-4.jpeg, Kirill Karabits & Nemanja Radulović at an I, CULTURE Orchestra rehearsal in Katowice, photo: Konrad Ćwik, center
Culture.pl’s Filip Lech talks to violinist Nemanja Radulović, the soloist who accompanied the I, CULTURE Orchestra during its 2018 summer tour, about composers old and new, how he likes to listen to music and his stage personas.
This year's tour of the I, CULTURE Orchestra (ICO) began on 22nd July 2018 with a concert at the Royal Castle in Warsaw as part of the Muzyczne Ogrody festival. Next, the orchestra performed at the Opéra Berlioz in Montpellier (as part of the French Radio Festival), at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and at Tivoli in Copenhagen. ICO is led by Kirill Karabits, the artistic director of ICO. The soloist of the summer tour was Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović.
Nemanja Radulović: Before my father met my mother he had a girlfriend from Poland, she taught him how to speak Polish. When I came to Poland for the first time, he came with me and was my translator.
Filip Lech: Do you remember your first contact with the violin?
NR: It was in Niš, I was seven years old. I asked my parents to show me a musical instrument. I don’t think I was aware of what kind of instrument I would play. We went to a music school and they examined whether I had talent and they said that the violin would be a good instrument. My parents bought me my first violin and everything settled quite fast.
FL: What was your first musical fascination?
NR: It was on the stage actually. The first time I had the opportunity to perform on stage, I remember it was so magical – time seemed to flow differently and all of my senses were heightened. The reason that I continued to make music is that the stage is like a magical box, inside of it you can be any person you would like to be, you can choose different characters and perform in a much deeper way than just playing the notes.
FL: Who are you on stage?
NR: I have no idea! On one hand, I'm the same person, but on the other, on stage I try to be more free. Sometimes I am an old man, sometimes a child, sometimes a woman. It depends on how the music affects my imagination.
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FL: How do you like listening to music? Alone in your room, in a crowded club, or at a concert hall?
NR: I don't need to be alone, I like sharing the experience with other people, however, I do like to give all my attention to listening. It can be in a concert hall, at home. I don't like to listen to music as a background, for example, I prefer silence in a restaurant because when I hear music, then my attention is divided.
FL: You recorded albums with pieces by Bach, Czajkowski, Paganini. Which composers are most important to you?
NR: That kind of question is always difficult to answer, it's the same kind as ‘Do you prefer your mother or your father?’ I think all composers whose music I had the opportunity to work with are important, because each of them made me understand something about music. Brahms made me understand some things in Beethoven's music.
If I had to choose two composers which I perform basically every day, even if it is not on the stage, then it's Mozart and Bach. Bach brings me down to earth and I find the basics again. Mozart is much more emotional, his music is full of life, playing his music is like flying.
FL: Are you interested in historically informed performances?
NR: Of course, it shows the evolution of not only a composer but also of performing with different kind of instruments. Every ten or twenty years you have a different style of performing Bach, Mozart. It's very interesting.
I tried to play on early instruments but it's not for me. I'm always stuck in between historical pieces and current compositions. I think it's important to make it a combination, because we will be a part of history as well.
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FL: Have you recently discovered any new interesting composers?
NR: For the next couple of months, I'm planning to focus on music by Thierry Escaich, he's a well-known French composer. For almost a decade, I worked with the Serbian composer Aleksander Sedlar. He's really open-minded, and his music goes from a very classical period to today. He mixes everything together so easily keeping his own way of expression.
FL: Do you have any musical fascinations besides classical music?
NR: I love all kinds of music, I think that's important. I find a lot of motivation in different genres. I like rock, traditional music, pop, jazz, blues. I think of music like it is one living organism. The expression is different, but you can always go deeper and find out what your expression is.
I like discovering new things. Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of Indian music, I think it is very expressive and beautiful.
FL: What is the most difficult thing about playing the violin?
NR: The important thing is not to practice just for the sake of practicing. When I did that I always got demotivated. When I just accepted the fact that at some point I couldn't achieve something that I wanted to, I’d stop practicing for a day, then I’d try again, and it was already different. Sometimes we want the result immediately, on all kinds of instruments, so it's important to focus on a different aspect of music.
FL: Who would you be if not a violinist?
NR: I think I would be an artist. Maybe a theatre actor?
FL: I, CULTURE Orchestra is not only a musical project but also, in some way, a social and political project. In the modern world, there are huge migrations of people, military conflicts are erupting. What can musicians do in this situation?
NR: When I play, I try to make people forget their everyday problems. It's enough if they forget about recent bad situations. I think it's nice to be involved in music and try to connect people with art as much as we can.
I would like to share joy with people, my belief is that the world is a beautiful place. We need to remember that, especially nowadays. These kind of projects remind me why I started playing music in the first place.
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Nemanja Radulović was born in Niš, Serbia, in 1985. He studied the violin at the music department of the Belgrade University of the Arts and at the Hochschule für Musik Saar in Saarbrücken under Joshua Epstein’s direction. At the age of 14, he has been accepted to the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under the direction of Patrice Fontanorosa. Winner of the International Violin Competition Joseph Joachim in Hanover (2003). Since 2013, associated with the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label.