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Many people have a talent but wait for a chance to find it

07 April 2015 / 19:04:51  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Cellist Michael Petrov is one of the talented young European musicians who have been selected to play in some of the biggest concert halls in Europe within the platform ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation). Athens and its Megaro Mousikis Concert Hall were the sixth stop of his joint performances with pianist Ashley Fripp.

GRReporter met with Michael hours before the concert on 19 January. In an informal conversation that followed yet another rehearsal of the two musicians, he told us about his path from Lyubomir Pipkov National School of Music in Sofia to Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, about his rehearsals and participations in recitals and concerts, and his quite unexpected passion for football. Michael Petrov talked with Anastasia Balezdrova.

Would you tell us how you became involved in music?

I was born and raised in Sofia. I started to study at Lyubomir Pipkov National School of Music at the age of seven. When I was in fourth grade, I went to Purcell School for Young Musicians in London for a year. Then I decided to return to Sofia. When I was 15 years old, I went back to London and continued my education at the Yehudi Menuhin School. I have been in London ever since and currently I am studying at Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

I will graduate at the end of 2016. Now, this is my first year in the course for an artistic diploma and then the real world comes.

Is passion for music a product of inspiration or part of a family tradition?

I come from a family of musicians, so no one was waiting for me to be inspired by something or someone. They just gave me the instrument and told me to play. That is good, because I think many people do not know they have a talent because they are waiting for something to happen. Therefore, it is useful when music is a tradition in the family.

What are your expectations of the programme in which you participate?

The organization is called ECHO - European Concert Halls Organization. Each hall nominates one or two artists, or a quartet, etc. Then they play in all halls included in the programme.

We play in beautiful and prestigious halls. There may be not only music fans in the audience but also agents, journalists and so on. The level is very high and I certainly expect things to happen. But I cannot say exactly what things.

This is your first appearance before the Greek audience but you have played before the English and Bulgarian one. What is the difference between them?

The audience is different in each country. If my performance is good, they show their approval always in a different way. For example, in Portugal it seems that, regardless of how you play, you always hear shouting at the end of the concert, all are on their feet and you perform many encores. In England, people are more reserved but they are not cold.

I have not played for a long time in Bulgaria but I remember that I have always been received with open arms and many cheers after the concert. And that is always nice. I still do not know about Greece but people seem warm.

Is it difficult for a young and talented Bulgarian to make his or her way in London and on the international stage in general?

Yes, it is difficult, because the market is very small. It does not really matter where you come from and to which nation you belong. It is difficult everywhere. This work is not well paid, especially in England it is at the level of school fees. When someone is of my age, that person cannot live only on them, without a scholarship and awards. But this applies to all, whether you are Bulgarian, English, German, etc.

And because it is difficult, at one point you learn to live for the day, just striving to play better and better.

Your biography says that you play a very old instrument. Tell us its story.

The instrument was made by Carlo Antonio Testori in Milan in 1745. He was the son of the great master Testori and they actually worked together in the family workshop. Carlo Antonio is known for his violoncellos and especially for the way they sound. They have a very soft and sweet tone. But the sound does not reflect the way they look. Their workmanship is crude, as if they were hastily made.

The interesting fact about this violoncello is that it is very big because in the 18th century the trend was to make them smaller in size and they cut off part of the wood for this reason. But the one that I play has not undergone this process which is why it is so big.

How is such an instrument stored?

Such old instruments are always very temperamental. Weather conditions affect them and therefore one must always be careful not to leave them near a source of heat or in the sun because wood can crack. And the older the instrument is, the more expensive its repair is.

Who is your favourite composer and work?

I do not often listen to music, because I play music and it would be strange to listen to music again when I am free. If a work is good, it does not matter to me who the composer is and the violoncello repertoire is so small that one cannot choose at all or choose only part of it.

How many hours do you rehearse a day?

I play alone at least 4.5 hours a day. Then there are rehearsals and days when I spend 10-11 hours on the instrument.

Tags: MusicVioloncelloMichael PetrovConcertsRecitalsLondon
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