«I don’t like playing the victim»
At present, big symphony concerts can only happen online. But the Migros Cultural Percentage Classics plan to provide a live stage for both artists and audience. Its actual scale is beyond the scope of influence of the organisers. But Artistic Director Mischa Damev believes that is no excuse for simply sitting on your hands and waiting for better times.
M&T: Symphony concerts with an audience are currently not possible. The Migros Cultural Percentage Classics are now introducing a Covid-appropriate chamber music format.
Mischa Damev: We spent all last year trying to fulfil every tour that we had scheduled, and that will remain our attitude. If international orchestras are unable to travel, we look for a homegrown substitute, a Swiss orchestra. That means we need scope for offering 500 seats. Because Covid restrictions prevent us from achieving that at present, we decided to offer a series of chamber music concerts badged as «Club Concerts».
M&T: You could just as easily tell people: sorry, it’s beyond our control.
Mischa Damev: I really don’t like playing the victim. I don’t want to sit around helplessly complaining. We are planning to put on socially distanced concerts for audiences of 50 in the four cities Geneva, Bern, Zurich and Lucerne where we perform in normal times. The tickets cost a standard 25 francs. The Club Concerts are a separate series, not a substitute for the symphony concerts.
I really don’t like playing the victim. I don’t want to sit around helplessly complaining.
M&T: A separate series. So might you continue with that format alongside the touring symphony orchestras?
Mischa Damev: I’d certainly like to if it’s a hit with audiences. It’s a case of throwing the ball in the air and seeing if anyone catches it. The unique thing about the «Club Concerts» is their blend of classical music and jazz.
M&T: That isn’t something you commonly find on the Swiss concert scene. Does it work?
Mischa Damev: I’ll be intrigued to see how this combination comes across. What I can say is the musicians in our first tour got together and discussed where there were common threads to be found in their programmes.
M&T: Might cultural life actually receive fresh impetus specifically as a result of the extraordinary times we are living in?
Mischa Damev: Amid this crisis we have a unique opportunity, maybe even an historic duty, to innovate. Culture has never experienced such a crisis in the past 100 years. Even at the end of the Second World War, the orchestra played on as the bombs were falling all around.
Excerpt from the interview with Mischa Damev by Reinmar Wagner, on behalf of the magazine Musik & Theater (issue 3-4/2021)
The Club Concerts are planned at short notice and will start as soon as the situation allows. Click here for the precise dates: club.migros-kulturprozent-classics.ch
Photo/Stage: Gerald Langer