Category Archives: Music

Dan Grigore – the extraordinary pianist

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Dan Grigore is considered one of the greatest pianist of the second half of the twenties century. His passion for music started early, he started piano lessons at three years old under the influence of his mother, also gifted for music. As a child, being ill for two weeks he asked his parents to take him with his blanket to his piano; from the beginning he was attracted irresistible by music.

Dan Grigore was born in Bucharest in 1943. At only 8 years old, he continued his piano lessons with great teachers from the Bucharest Conservatory, Eugenia Ionescu, Constantin Jora and then Florica Musicescu. He followed the courses of the Bucharest Conservatory but also in Sankt Petersburg at Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory with Tatiana Kravcenko. In 1969 he received a scholarship for Vienna, where he studied with Richard Hauser.

In the Romanian Communist period, as many other artistic Romanian personalities, he was marginalized. He received other scholarships, like the scholarship offered by Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau Conservatory (1968), at the Madison-Wisconsin USA (1969-1971), by Sergiu Celibidache in Munchen (1979) or the invitation of the American Government for o trip in USA(1987). All are refused by the Romanian communist administration. We can not wonder, what could have been the artistic career of Dan Grigore in other times? Travelling through the grand scenes is after all essential for any music artist.

After the falling of the communist regime, Dan Grigore was invited to play in Tokio, Kyoto, Osaka, Anvers, Berlin, München, Budapesta, Birmingham, Cardiff, Paris, Roma, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen … and so, as a tribute, the public worldwide appreciated  him.

In 1996, he sustained three concerts with the Munches Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sergiu Celibidache, the last concerts of the Romanian extravagant conductor.

Two of the important services that Dan Grigore made to Romania were bringing home on the Romanian stages the great artists left during the communism (Ileana Cotrubaș, Marina Krilovici, Silvia Marcovici, Radu Lupu, Radu Aldulescu, Sergiu Celibidache) and the project  “Dati un leu pentru Ateneu” (“Give a coin for the Athenaeum”) for the restoration of the Romanian Athenaeum.

In October 2013, Dan Grigore will perform with the great Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Two Romanians on one of the greatest stages in the world, what an honor!

photo: evz.ro

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Damian Drăghici – star, gypsy, music, Mensa, poor, famous, generous, Grammy, Romanian, …

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So … star, Gypsy, music, Mensa, poor, famous, generous, Grammy, Romanian, … can you put these words together? … You have to! ‘cause we are starting to talk about Damian Drăghici, the genius with panpipes … the one who makes us forget the appearances and believe in destiny.

Damian Draghici was born in a family of musicians, traditionally gypsy music (lăutărească). He started playing at the age of three … cymbal, piano, contrabass, skins … at the age of ten, panpipes … and this was what he  has chosen for life.

Maybe without a traditionally education, he said he was never interested in school (as many gifted children), but with a strong musical education, from a family with many generations of musicians, starting learning at a very young age, always interested in “the music that chosen him” … in fact, some of these details can be found in many biographies of great musicians, from classic to modern music.

Really gifted, he was soon renowned as prodigy in Romania, participations of National festivals and concerts. Then invitations to play abroad, 1885 Denmark, again in 1987, 1988 the invitation of Richard Clayderman … all refused by the communist regime.

In 1988 he left clandestinely crossed the border at Timişoara in Yugoslavia, he walked many kilometers intending to get in Italy, but finally arriving in Greece … there he played initially at tables for money, then he succeeded in  playing keyboards in clubs … then, after a jazz concert with only four-five as audience, he decided to risk again for making what he always wished, real music.

The first step was a contract in Holland, a CD with Sony Music and then “the American dream”. He, “the Romanian gypsy”, dares to participate to an audition for Berklee College of Music, Boston and he obtained a full scholarship. He wasn’t having the money to get there, but they wanted him deeply so resolved this too. He finished Berklee College in one year and two months instead of four years with Magna Cum Laude; Damian Drăghici, obviously a phenomenon.

Someone that saw him so “rapid” in everything, always “bored”, speaking quickly, searching for something new, proposed him to give a Mensa test, he took this one too, Damian Drăghici is now a Mensa’s member.

In America, he becomes recognized for his outstanding talent …. release Damian’s Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra and musicians such as Dave Weckl, Neil Stubenhaus, Jimmy Johnson, John Robinson, Mike Miller, Ramon Stagnaro, Luis Conte … then in 2004 he joined as one of the headliners the Night of the Proms along with James Brown, Joe Cocker, Shaggy, Cyndi Lauper, Zucchero, Gypsy Kings, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), The Pointer Sisters … and also a Grammy prize.

We can definitely say that Damian Drăghici lived in America “the American dream”, but this wasn’t his dream … he started speaking about his depression in this world of glamour, “without substance, where everything is fake” for him … psychologists came into scene, the last one find the treatment: “You don’t need medicaments. Go back to your roots. Go back home”. Quincy Jones said the same thing “Damian, go home. What I did for black people, what Spielberg did for Jewish, you can make for Gypsies”.

The Project “Damian & Brothers” was for his soul, returning in Romania, playing with Romanians Gypsies … a show that went through all Europe, a project that finally lasted three years, not three months as he initially thought. His appearance also changed from the Hollywood one to a “free” one … getting some weighs, having beard, singing drunk … he was amazed how much money you can make beating the drum … how many women you can have (he’s a man after all) even if you don’t look “pretty” … how you have to return to jazz until you lost yourself.

And jazz it was, the “best” of it, in 2010 with Eddie Daniels and Diane Schuur and in 2011, Classical Meets Jazz with Nigel Kennedy.

Now, Damian Drăghici, gives us another lesson. He decided to give up music, something that he says he has done only for his ambition, in order to help the others. Damian Drăghici has now a foundation that helps gifted children.

For some reason, glory is never in enough, why  having a Grammy when you can have two, three, four … it never actually ends … and this is the lesson of Damian Drăghici, knowing to choose the “other” way.

I don’t know if Damian Drăghici is now happy, even I think that in different ways he has always been and he always will. I know he is making an enormous generous thing by helping gifted children, another reason for admiring him even more.

And I also think that he will return someday to music, because “music chosen him” first plays, but maybe this is just a thought of someone used to think in patterns.

photo: last.fm, cinemagia.ro, a1.ro, cultural-china.com, adevarul.ro

Angela Gheorghiu – 20 years at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House

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I wanted many times to write about Angela Gheorghiu, but it’s so much, what to say first? …

Instead of introduction, in the world of ratting, I’ll say something I’ve read often: Angela Gheorghiu is “one of the most important artists of the classic music”, “one of the best-selling artists” nowadays.

Angela Gheorghiu has more than 25000 “friends” on Facebook; I’m, of course, one of them and recently she shared an interview of her for the Romanian television … so, I’ll start from this interview to speak about her… the destiny of Angela Gheorghiu, as she said, doesn’t started on a big stage, it started in Adjud, Romania where she was born in 1965 and started learning music. Then she graduated the Art College and The Conservatory in Bucharest. In 1985 she started the apparition at The Romanian Television.

During the Romanian Revolution, “between the noises of bullets” as she remembers, she received a call about the first invitation to an international event. So, this in how, in July 1990, being in the last year at the Conservatory in Bucharest, she was singing in Amsterdam, then in Basel and then, in 1992, at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, London as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. After her debut, the BBC Chanel changed the program in order to transmit the amazing Covent Garden’s show with Angela Gheorghiu.

How is possible so soon, so young, such an important part in Covent Garden?

Only for a phenomenon is possible; and this is what Angela Gheorghiu is, a phenomenon of universal classic music.

After Coven Garden’s debut, followed the Vienna State Opera, Milan’s La Scala New York’s Metropolitan Opera … and here I’ll stop in the places listed because she played and plays actual everywhere … and I’ll list only some of her awards: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or Awards, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Cecilia Prize, the Echo Award, the Italian Musica e dischi, Foreign Lyric Production Award, the USA Critics’ Award, … Angela Gheorghiu won also the title of Female Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards in 2001 and 2010. She was appointed an Officer and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by France and Romanie. Angela Gheorghiu was also with “La Medaille Vermeille de la Ville de Paris” in France, Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Arts in Iasi and the Star of Romania, in the highest rank by the President of Romania.

Being many times called capricious because of her obsession for details and perfection, Angela Gheorghiu decided years ago to dedicate her life to stage and public, working only for this. She lived always with the idea of “what she is” and not “what she can become” believing in her destiny. She was also many times her own teacher, she worked many times alone, learning alone the plays.

About Romania, Angela Gheorghiu is saying that “Romania is her blood” and also, some of her important benchmarks are Romanians: the first voice recorded that impressed her was the one of the Romanian Virginia Zeani. She will always thank to two Romanians that marked her career, Iosif Sava and Luminita Constantinescu. Angela Gheorghiu was very reserved with her private live, but an interesting and nice thing is that her husband, the famous Roberto Alagna, learned Romanian, the language of her country, as she wished.

Another beautiful present for her native Romania is singing one or two Romanian songs in every of her concerts.

A gesture of profound generosity was her initiative in the promotion of Romanian young talents, many being invited to play in her spectacles worldwide, like Teodor Ilincai, Stefan Pop, Iulia Isaev, Vlad Mirita, Marius Manea, Irina Iordachescu.

Two pop projects and clips in Romania were “Numele tau” (“Your name”) with Stefan Banica and, more recently, “Nu mai e timp!” (“There’s no time!”) with the pop-rock band Holograf. She also participated in Romania in the concerts for the Days of Bucharest.

In 2011, Angela Gheorghiu accepted the proposal of recording the album “Homage to Maria Callas”, not an easy task regarding the difficult repertory and the responsibility for the “great” Maria Callas. An unprecedented clip was turned in Romania as part of this project, a clip that puts together “on the same stage” the interpretation of Habanera by Maria Callas in 1963 and by Angela Gheorghiu in 2011 … “the queens of opera music finally together”, one of the comment on YouTube.

This year, 20 years from the debut of Angela Gheorghiu at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, London, a spectacle dedicated to her and Roberto Alagna will take place in order to celebrate this event.

photo: roportal.ro

“The Scream” by Sebastian Cosor

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I just love this Sebastian Cosor’s idea!

Edward Munch meeting Pink Floyd in the animated interpretation of Sebastian Cosor.

Two prizes at Anim’est.

A Media Pro Magic / ProTv Romania production.

“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood-red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

Edward Munch, 1893.

Romania at Eurovision 2012 – Mandinga

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www.mandinga.ro

“This group represents excellency in cultural confluences in a show without frontiers, able to charm the most exigent audience. The balanced base of Romanians and Cubans members ensures the unique artistic fluency of this band. The blend of sounds, the virtuosity and impeccable visual construction turn any MANDINGA appearance into a spectacular show.

4 albums released: De corazon – 2003 My sun – 2005 Gozalo! – 2006 Donde – 2008

Winner in Best Live category at Romanian Music Awards 2009 MANDINGA has an average of 300 live shows per year and countless tv appearances, usually as guest star of entertainment shows.

MANDINGA has: its own international festival Salsafest www.salsafest.ro successfull shows in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Cuba one gold record in 7 years, MANDINGA maintained its unchallengeable position as best latino band from Romania.
MANDINGA received international authentication, sharing the stage with the most important names in latino music. Buena Vista Social Club, Manolito Simonet y Su Trabucco, Arturo Sandoval, Bamboleo, Rafaga, Havana Lounge, Billy Cobham, Luis Conte. The single “Goochi” featuring Luis Vasquez (SUA) conquered international tops in Spain, Switzerland, Peru, Bulgaria, USA and Romania.”

www.mandinga.ro

I hope we’ll vote Mandinga at Eurovision 2012!

Ioan Holender – great Opera’s manager

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  I was thinking how to explain my daughter what “direct” is and that there couldn’t be a better  solution  than  “Radetzky March” for the end of the Vienne New Year Concert … and going from here to the memory of another cool Romanian.

For many of us, this concert, annually transmitted by the Romanian national television, is the only contact with Vienne State Opera. For Ioan Holender, the manager of Vienne State Opera for almost 20 years, it is much more,  it’s his life.

Ioan Holender was born in Timisoara, Romania, in 1935.  His father owned a factory in Timişoara, which was expropriated in the communist period.  He studied mechanical engineering, he also worked as a tennis coach and then he emigrated with his family to Austria. There, he followed music studies and was baritone for some years. In 1966 he started working at  the Starka theatrical agency and began to have success.

 In 1992 he became the manager of Vienne State Opera,  the largest audience Opera in the world. With Ioan Holender as manager, the number of shows and receipts achieved new records, over 50 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per season. And that is why the mandate of Ioan Holender as manager was another record, the longest in the history.

At the age of 75 years, Ioan Holender withdraw from this position. The show dedicated to this moment was a real tribute: a marathon of six hours, more than 40 interpreters, 12 conductors, all the funds being donated for the street’s children in Moldavia Republic.

What is Ioan Holender now? … artistic adviser for Tokyo Opera, Budapest Opera, New York Metropolitan Opera, …, the president and artistic manager of  “George Enescu” Romanian Festival, the honorary ambassador of Timisoara, the town that he had never forgotten and always promoted.

photo: cimec.ro