For the first time, the British violinist took part in Odessa Classics Festival back in 2017. In a blink, Daniel Hope won the Odessa audience by his talent, personal charm and magnificent skills; so himbecoming an Artist in Residence of the Odessa Classics is a logical follow-up to his previous performances. During his participations,Daniel Hope acquainted the audience with different projects, among them Antonio Vivaldi / Max Richter “The Four Seasons / Vivaldi Recomposed”; both Zurich and Berlin Chamber Orchestras came to perform with him. And what is more, Daniel gave a master class for young violinists at Stolyarsky School; it describes him not only as professional, but also as a caring and emphatic man. This year Hope presented a sensational Baroque program together with the band of “very dangerous musicians”.
His concerts share positivity and evoke a smile.He has the least common hair colour and takes his distinctions well. In his performances, the most important thing for him is to tell the story; detecting interrelations between compositions Hope seeks to organize a distinctive journey for his audience. But it took him some time to develop such way of communication with audience. He wanted more than playing a standard set of music; he wanted to tell something while performing.
“Over the last ten or fifteen years, the minute that I start to play I feel happy. But it took a long time to get there. I always loved to play, but sometimes I was nervous, sometimes things happen, and since being a father I just noticed I have more calmness, and it gives you the chance to digest what you are playing”.
His coming is always the highlight of our festival, so tickets to his concerts are sold-out first and foremost. And arranging an interview with him is almost as difficult as getting a ticket a week before his concert. But the stars aligned, and Daniel graciously spared an hour of his time to for this interview.
Snobbery, affectedness, arrogance and overconfidence –it has nothing to do with him. Daniel is very approachable and easy to talk with, has a gift for genuine respect and exceptional purity. He prefers casual style, sneakers –jeans – polo shirt, and looks much younger than his age (he is 47) thanks to a mischievous twinkle in his eye and his charming smile.
– Still being under the impression of your concert, first of all, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to enjoy the unbelievable energy, you energized all the audience. While watching your “especially dangerous” musicians, we noticed that each of them has great personal charm and brilliant talent. How do you pick the musicians to perform with on stage?
Well, thank you, it’s also for me very nice to be back here in Odessa, at Odessa Classics Festival. With this program «Air» I was over fifteen years playing with different musicians, and I was searching for the perfect combination. I have known these musicians, I call them dangerous musicians, for more than ten years, and I played with each of them separately but not together as a group. And it’s when you bring musicians together of course they all are talented, that’s clear, but also the personalities have to fit together. And I find with this gentlemen now we fit together perfectly, it’s just a perfect combination.
– Your quarantine project «[email protected]» have ended more recently; due to circumstances, there was a lot of improvisation involved, just like at our Festival. You had both sound and picture of high quality, but you had no time either to come up with the repertoire or to have a rehearsal . How did you manage to do all this, to make this project happen?
– It was a big challenge. We launched the project in a matter of 24 hours. After the first episodes had been shown, everything started to go very fast. Initially, I just wanted to make music for my family at home and for some friends out there. So I wanted to recreate the idea of salon concerts, when you would have people come and you would play chamber music for a small gathering. It was like the idea of the 19th century, and that’s the kind of concert which I love, and it’s almost forgotten now, it has almost died out.
In the beginning, nobody thought it would grow to seventy episodes and eight million streams. The project gave me the feeling that it’s okay to keep working. At the beginning of lockdown, for about 10 days, I tried to live just staying home. And I was on the internet and I was listening to many friends and colleagues who were playing concerts with the cell phones in their bathrooms. And that first feeling was a wonderful feeling; it was like everybody was hugging each other around the world. But then as I was watching more of the streams I realized what started to bother me was the sound because the sound was never really top quality. And with classical music it’s about listening. It’s about the sound and so that’s why I started to think about making a stream with high quality sound. I called my friend, who’s responsible for concert programs at the television company ARTE. They wanted the visual, but I wanted the sound so I said to them I would only do it if I can guarantee the sound is absolutely top quality. Then I called one of the best sound producers in Berlin. One hour later he was making his measurements in my living room and said “We’ll do it!”. We had to start the very next day. There were many difficulties like to find a piano because I didn’t have a piano at my home. To find a piano and did it transported during a lockdown was anything but simple. The only piano we could find was a Yamaha 440 so it’s a slightly lower pitch than most pianos but it didn’t matter, we took it. It was like a snowball, it started very slow and became faster and bigger and grew to this huge production. I never realized how many people were behind the camera, were listening.
– This project was born due to quarantine, but at that time the pandemic was escalating. Weren’t you afraid of such a close contact with so many other people? What about your wife, didn’t she say: “Daniel, what are you doing, we have kids, and all those strange people at our home – what for?”
– Yes, it was everything but simple. But we luckily have a house. Where we filmed was on the ground floor in the house, it was completely separate, no contact to where we lived, my family stayed above. Of course, we took several precautions; the same crew, always the same people, they were all tested before we started the project. They always came and left from separate entrance; some of the team, the sound specialists, stayed at the basement. During all streams it was the same crew, always the same people. We needed a few minutes before the show, we did the show, and they left again. And we disinfected everything every day. I’m very grateful to my wife and to my family for their support, for allowing this to happen. My wife had to take care of our kids, they shouldn’t have been very loud. But nevertheless, we had a funny thing happened, when at the end of the show my son shouted: “Papa, I’m hungry”, and it was streamed. So, that’s real life.
– Yes, I remember this moment; your son has a clear voice. I think it wasn’t an easy time for your family; you were at home, but at the same time beyond their reach. As we have mentioned your family, so tell us please about your wife, is she involved in the arts? And also your kids, you want them to be musicians, don’t you?
– It was good, I liked that *laughing*. My family is the central focus and the sunshine in my life. My wife is a wonderful, beautiful lady, very strong, but also very calm. She’s a very talented painter; she draws and paints, but mostly draws. She has her own gift of what they call it hyperrealistic. She has an ability just from nothing to create something on a piece of paper, so when she draws with a pencil it becomes like a photograph. And she’s… we say she’s my rock, kind of strength in our family. We have two beautiful boys, six years old and two years old; and she takes care of them, and she does it in a fantastic way. But to be a musician it’s a difficult choice nowadays. I love my sons to be in contact with music, at least to hear it or to dance to it. Whatever makes them happy I’m happy for them. Big passion of my elder son is theatre. Before the lockdown we were always going to the theatre together, and he is always looking for the productions, analyzing that, the lighting and the colors, got something very special. Theatre is his thing, so I could imagine maybe if he would go in this direction.
– So last year you came with your dear amazing wonderful beautiful mother. But also last year Mischa Maisky came with his whole family, with all of his kids, even the smallest ones. So next year will we have a chance to meet your gorgeous wife and your fascinating kids?
– I tell my family all the time about Odessa, they see the photographs and they know how much I love this place. You know the smallest child is a little bit small, and I want him to be able to be in context of where we are. So I think in one or two years it will be fine. I hope so very much, I would love them to come here.
– You seem like a musician that has nothing he cannot perform, that you can master any type of music any kind of piece everything, but it feels like Baroque music is something that is very dear to your heart and the way you perform it is truly exceptional. Why?
– Baroque music is a very particular kind of music: it’s dancing, it’s love songs, it’s drinking songs, the motion. It’s about human beings actually. And we, as musicians, we see these giants, like Johann Sebastian Bach and Haendel, with their wigs on and very elegant and we are afraid to go close to them cause they are so much higher than us. They are way up there and we are way down here; but when you start to read about them and you start to investigate them as people, you realize they were absolutely human. And the human element in Baroque music I find is particularly exciting, because music was so important to the social structure of Baroque times. Music meant everything. And you know the word Baroque comes from the spanish “barocco”! And “barocco” means rough cut pearl, something that is not perfect, it’s not pure, it’s not clean, it’s dangerous. It’s quite imperfect, but I find it interesting. We are used to seeing beautiful baroque palaces and perfection and that is something that is subversive actually about baroque music; this music was revolutionary at that time.
– You are very artistic when you perform; you show your love to music. It feels pretty obvious too that you are very kind and caring person. What do you think, to whom of your parents or grandparents you owe such an amazing personality?
– You know, certainly both my parents, I mean, my father and mother for sure. They are absolutely amazing and very different people. They raised us, I mean my brother, in a beautiful, very open way and they encouraged us to… to have our own opinion, you know. To believe in things and try to be a good person. That’s was one of the greatest lessons that we learned from them. My mother is very organized and brilliantly structured, my father is not very well organized, but wonderfully creative; so I guess I’m a mixture of them. And of my grandparents too. I was very close to my grandmother on my mother’s side. I guess I am a real big mix of different cultures, religions and nations. On my mother’s side we have very strong Jewish heritage, on my father’s side we have Irish Catholics. So we have this real melting pot of emotions and personalities.
– Were you afraid of coming to Odessa, or was this risk justified?
– I would not say I was scared but of course I have concerns and my family prefers me not to travel anywhere. But the friendship that bound me to Alexey, to the festival is very special for me. Under the current circumstances it is very important to support any festival that is operating. As of today, it is the biggest music festival being organized in Europe. And to support it is of great importance. What Alexey and his team are doing now requires tremendous efforts to make it happen, to have music being played. I know there have been many obstacles on the way of the festival. But Alexey doesn’t give up, he is a fighter and that’s one of the reasons why I love him and why I support him. I love coming to Odessa, to the Festival. Every time when I contact with the audience and feel how important the music is for Odessans and for guests of your city it makes me really happy.