Daniyar Sokolov: “When I started Sforzando, I was a pioneer in everything”

The youth orchestra is hoping for the support of the authorities of Tatarstan

Daniyar Sokolov: “When I started Sforzando, I was a pioneer in everything”

Daniyar Sokolov, the director of the regional charitable public foundation for promoting the development of musical performance of the Republic of Tatarstan Sforzando, artistic director and chief conductor of the youth orchestra of the same name, told the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya whether the open-air festival Music Around Us will continue and why it is difficult to promote the one-act opera.

How orchestra similar to a small business

Daniyar, it is probably uneasy for you, as a restless and active person, to be in quarantine. How has self-isolation affected the orchestra's activities? For example, do you intend to cancel the summer street concerts that you did on Black Lake?

The quarantine has hit everyone like a hammer on an anvil. There are no rehearsals, everyone has been sent to their homes. I myself, for example, have never stayed at home so long. The most annoying thing is that the rehearsal process was stopped just while working on a new interesting project. Our situation is particularly difficult. The orchestra is a non-profit project, and we receive funding only by winning grants. And the past year fully showed us how hard it is without them. Grant funds ran out in 2018, and in the past we tried to earn money ourselves. It is uneasy to keep a professional team without constant funding. And this year, the first quarter was already empty, as we were waiting for a decision on all our projects, including summer ones.

Now, under quarantine, I'm beginning to think that all social and non-profit projects will have to be curtailed. We have a business component, that is, as a small business, we live partly from selling concert tickets. Now there is no money. Small business was already breathing its last, but here ... Our orchestra, it turns out, is like a small business, and I really find it difficult to say anything about our future now.

Our orchestra, it turns out, is like a small business, and it's really hard for me to say anything about our future now

A “surge in concert attendance” is coming

What do you think the world will be like after the epidemic? What will be the music and attitude to it? Maybe there will be less garbage and more eternal classics? Or vice versa?

I think there is being such an influx of various online programmes, everyone is trying to show themselves, not to let them forget about themselves, but the live format will only benefit from this in the end. After all, human nature is such that a live sound appeals to them more. There was already a trend that electronic music would replace everything, but it turned out how it puts pressure on a person.

I remember having a fear that electronics, synthesizers in particular, would replace all musical instruments…

Let's just say that people pampered themselves and returned to the true, eternal. Harmonious sound, silence — that's what is difficult to catch now. You go out on the street — cars are noisy, TVs are on everywhere, phones are ringing. And music exists for so many centuries for a reason. It is perfect, it penetrates the heart and soul. People will go to concert halls, lean toward live communication with artists, with each other.

They say that people are already used to communicating online and this is enough for them.

I have heard about the assumption that now people will no longer want to meet face to face. I am sure that this is not going to happen because sitting at home it is simply impossible to feel the actor's performance, to hear the music really. For example, I constantly watch the classical music channel Mezzo at home, but of course, there are no such feelings as in the hall. So I'm sure there will be a surge in concert attendance. The main thing is to wait for this moment.

We all really want to meet and continue working. Our forced holidays have shown the unity of our team, the musicians want to gather and rehearse, despite the fact that there is no permanent funding

How are you and your team going to celebrate the end of the quarantine? What kind of concert would you give the people in Kazan on this occasion?

We all really want to meet and continue working. Our forced holidays have shown the unity of our team, the musicians want to gather and rehearse, despite the fact that there is no permanent funding. It so happened that the orchestra gathered people who want to engage in classical music, to take on unusual formats — chamber operas, one-act operas, modern classics.

Such people should be carried on their hands. I have already said this many times — in order to earn money easily, a musician does not need to finish a conservatory. There are such light formats for making money, and they have always been like a game in restaurants, for two or three nights you can earn 15,000. But a true musician learns all his life. And this is really rare.

Photo: Oleg Tikhonov
The genre of chamber opera implies a complete everyday story about love, about life situations for 40 minutes, and not large canvases with a large choir and extras. This is a very suitable option for youth format

What is the point of chamber opera

Are you planning to promote the format of chamber, one-act opera, as you did before — the operas Telephone, Bastien und Bastienne? Maybe you are going to introduce other, little-known forms and works?

Yeah, I really want to do and I am already doing — we have won a presidential grant to conduct KazanOperaLab. New works that were written, unfortunately, have not yet been “used”, on a permanent basis. On the one hand, some people think that it is easy to put on a play from scratch. But on the other hand, you can constantly play it, and this is a set, service, full-fledged orchestra — so far there is no place where you can do this all the time. But we can also find it, but it is impossible to earn and recoup the cost only on ticket sales, at least orchestra needs constant financing.

The genre of one-act opera is really very popular. People come and the halls are always packed. Besides, this format is convenient. It is convenient to take it on tours — a minimum of changes of scenery and several soloists. For the uninitiated viewer, this is also convenient because the genre implies a complete household story about love, about life situations for 40 minutes, and not large canvases with a large choir and extras. This is a very suitable option for youth format. And it has always been a popular story for composers to write small chamber plays.

Like all of us, I have been working all my life like this: we show you our maximum result, and if you like it and really deserve it, then please support us

“The concert in the Tchaikovsky hall and the presidential grant are our titles”

Speaking of soloists. Artur Islamov, who represents the Sforzando Foundation, received the Tantana 2020 award for the best role in the musical play My Taktash. Could you tell us about this work?

We are very pleased to be recognised in the most important theatre award of the republic. And this is already for the second time. For the first time, Tantana was won by Aysylu Nurullina for the best role in the musical performance — chamber opera The Diaries of Anne Frank. I think it is a great honour and a great achievement for us to be nominated for the same award along with the Musa Dzhalil Opera and Ballet Theatre. This shows that the level of our work is very high, everyone gives 150 per cent. And this is done for the following thing. Like all of us, I have been working all my life like this: we show you our maximum result, and if you like it and really deserve it, then please support us. After all, it often happens — nothing has been done yet, but they are already asking for it.

For example, the concert in Moscow shows our capabilities. In 2018, we performed at the Tchaikovsky Grand Concert Hall. For some reason, it passed unnoticed by our public, and this is a big mystery to me. After all, we are the only non-governmental youth group that played a solo concert there in prime time. It was the new year concert at the Moscow Conservatory on January 2. It is impossible to get there, unless you are invited. And we were just invited, and the fact that the team was given to perform on such a stage is like a title. I also consider the federal presidential grant that we won a title. Everything we had done before was counted.

Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov
Well-known directors, playwrights, and composers came to us from abroad and from all over Russia to work with our guys. After that, we gave them three months to think and choose the topic, and the composers — to write the original music material. The preparation took a year. The staging activities started after that

Is Tantana also the result of the work of your opera laboratory? So, this format of creativity is quite successful?

As for the performance Minem Taktash — it was a very difficult work within KazanOperaLab laboratory. This is not two weeks because it is impossible to make a high-quality product, especially an opera, in such a period. At first, we conducted a training programme. I would like to note that this was the first laboratory in terms of music. Before that, there had been only theatre laboratories, they were held by my friends from Zhivoy Gorod Foundation, in Ugol. In many ways, I relied on their experience, and for this I am very grateful to the foundation. Besides, I went to participate in the opera laboratory in Moscow. Well-known directors, playwrights, and composers came to us from abroad and from all over Russia to work with our guys. After that, we gave them three months to think and choose the topic, and the composers — to write the original music material. The preparation took a year. After that the staging events just started. It was extremely difficult because we did not have our own theatre, a permanent base for rehearsals. We are grateful to all our partners who responded — this is Lenin House of Culture, Moskovsky House of Culture, Sdvig Theatre, Tinchurin Theatre, where in the end we realised our plans. It turned out to be a very high-quality product, the first in the republic. This was not just a concert performance but a full-fledged production. Our work was awarded the Golden Mask in 2019.

Young people, students of the conservatory, teachers, students of music schools are looking at us closely now — what will it in the end? Will we be able to finish what they've started?

About the innermost

Mission is a fashionable word, so I don't want to ask you about it. What are you thinking about most often now?

Young people, students of the conservatory, teachers, students of music schools are looking at us closely now — what will it in the end. Will we be able to finish what they've started? Because when I started the orchestra and the foundation, everything was not that absolutely against us, but the resistance, as for every pioneer, was felt. And we were the first in almost everything: the open-air festival, for example. When we first rolled out the piano on the street for a concert in Sviyazhsk. And now Boris Berezovsky is doing it in Yelabuga. But, you must agree, our capabilities are not comparable! And so our initiatives are picked up by budget teams.

But I'm getting back to my thought. Many people are looking to see if a simple Kazan musician, local, not a newcomer, can do something useful. Many people reproach me that the director of a number of our operas is my father, Mnir Sokolov. But, first of all, who will work in such conditions? Second, we don't have music directors, and we got involved in the lab to educate our own ones, which, unfortunately, didn't work out. Everyone needs a comfortable environment. But our drector and sets the scenery, the light, not just sits in a chair… So thanks to our parents, everything works. Well, give me the best option — for example, a famous director from Moscow, which will entail a large fee. Yes, all this is in our plans, but today we are working with what we have, but properly.

By Anna Tarletskaya
Tatarstan