Acclaimed Greek violinist and conductor Leonidas Kavakos speaks to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) shortly before his four concerts with the Athens State Orchestra (ASO) in Greece, three of which will take place outside the capital, in an effort to bring classical music to a wider audience.
Kavakos has given up his fee for the purchase of musical instruments for the ASO and for several charities that operate in the cities where he will appear.
Q: What was your motive to appear outside of Athens?
Kavakos: It is something that I am very concerned about today. We are, unfortunately, the only European country where essentially, the people who live either because of ancestry or by choice in provinces, are culturally doomed. And not only culturally, but in other aspects as well. So when we started talking about our cooperation with the ASO- the first concert was in Kalamata in 2016 – I said from the beginning that I want these concerts to be equal to what we would have done at the Athens Concert Hall or in some city abroad. [I wanted] To transfer this kind of concert style to cities that have neither the ability nor the knowledge to organize similar events, nor of course to pay for them. I would like, of course, to have the support of local authorities, because the concerts we will give should also activate the local community.
Q: Talk to us about your relationship with ASO.
Kavakos: My relationship with the ASO is very old, because my father was in the orchestra for many years. I often went to the concerts since I started playing violin, six years old, and for a decade. I knew my father’s colleagues and friends and they knew me since I was a child. Some of my first musical steps were taken with the ASO. It was followed an odd gap and then, some years ago, there was a collaboration with the orchestra as a soloist. The approach came now – and this is important – by the orchestra’s musicians who wanted an artistic reunification partnership, which I am very pleased with.
Q: You have worked with top orchestras. How do you evaluate the Greek ones?
Kavakos: Greece, compared to its size, has an inconceivable number of talents. It’s admirable. What is pitiful, is how many of these people remain raw talents. Since I was a boy I was experiencing the Greek reality and the prospects of youngsters who returned to Greece with postgraduate studies from abroad and could not channel their enthusiasm into collaborations because the conditions were bad. This youthful dynamism evaporated very quickly. My wish is to end this. Let’s start with the few and essential things that really need to be done. Greek orchestras, while they have musicians of the highest level, cannot sound like big orchestras abroad because the soul of the orchestra and its history is determined by the person who guides them. And I also think that here in Greece, unfortunately, Greek orchestras cannot attract exceptional quality musicians due to budget restrictions.
Kavakos and the ASO will play in Agrinio on January 13 and in Patras on January 14. The dates for the other two concerts were not yet available.