Pianist and founder/musical director of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra at the University of Oxford, Dr Marios Papadopoulos, "brings together all the characteristics of one of the greatest artists in the world," according to the British newspaper The Times in 1975, when he first appeared at a piano recital.
On the occasion of his concert on 30 October 2018 at the Kaufman Music Center in New York, Dr Papadopoulos spoke to journalist Despina Afentouli from New Greek TV about his international career as a pianist and conductor.
Please talk to us about the concert on 30 October 2018 in New York.
The concert on October 30, organized by the Hellenic American Cultural Foundation, will focus on a new production of Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro", which I will conduct in March 2019 in the state-of-the-art Opera House at the Center for Culture of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens with the National Opera and the Oxford Philharmonic. The Director of HACF, Mr. Alexandros Euclidis, will make an introduction on the aspects of the production that will follow with arias and duets from the opera that will be presented by the Greek National Opera's leading actors involved in the production in Athens. In the second part, two of my honorable colleagues from the Oxford Philharmonic, will join me in the musical performance of Tchaikovsky's epic "Piano Trio". I am grateful to HACF for giving us the opportunity to present our work to Greek Americans and not only.
How much has your Greek background contributed to your love in the arts?
For 400 years, when the West flourished in the development of the arts, Greece was under Ottoman occupation. We had to bridge the gap very quickly. The only way to do it was to draw from the glorious past of Greece and find our own voice in an ever evolving world.
What are your artistic influences?
I was mainly influenced by the Greek pianist Gina Bachauer, who listened to me when I was seven years old and took me under her protection, arranging my move to London and placing me in the class of the renowned piano teacher Ilona Kabos. Ms. Bachauer remained a mentor until her premature death in 1976.
Why did you follow a professional career in Music?
My choices were limited. The decisions were made for me when I was still young and having progressed through the field from a very young age - by obtaining a Diploma in Piano Performance at the Royal College of Music at the age of 14 - I found myself doing international performances all over the world. In addition to a brief pause to discover myself again, music is the center of my life for the last 50 years. I do not regret the moment that I followed the path of music: music is my life and I can not live without it.
When you first appeared on a piano recital in 1975, the newspaper "The Times" described you as the person who "brings together all the characteristics of one of the greatest artists in the world". Why is it important to strive for excellence?
It is very important. As I grow older, things are becoming more and more difficult, as I become much more demanding from myself in the search for excellence.
What inspired you to set up the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra within the university campus where Oxford University is located?
I never liked to travel a lot and go from place to place. I really liked as an idea of setting up an orchestra where I can create music in one place. Oxford offers me the stage for my work as an artist and I have a selective audience with whom I have developed a relationship all these years. Most of my work is now in Oxford.
As a Music Director of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, you've worked with many renowned artists. What are the key aspects of a major cooperation?
From every great artist, I learn something. My many encounters, with some of the best artists in the world, I believe have made me a better musician.
Your work includes the presentation of music in degraded economic and social areas. In your opinion, how does music contribute to a person's quality of life?
Undoubtedly. In some cases, it is crucial. I'm always glad when I "touch" people with my music: when a tear runs, I understand that I deeply touched someone while I was playing music.
The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra collaborates with the Oxford University Music Department. How interested are students in Music?
Music is a global language. In Oxford, as a percentage of participation, we are fortunate to welcome more students to our concerts than any other orchestra in the UK.
Through your collaboration with the Oxford City Council and the Oxford County Council, you have tuition fees and offer opportunities for musical performances to young musicians. How important is government support?
Unfortunately, music is marginalized in our UK education system. An orchestra in the 21st century must function more as a music source to fill the gap and provide educational opportunities for students. State support is essential, but at a time when music education is cut in general, we must find alternative sources of funding to fulfill our role both as artists and as educators.
You were honored and awarded by the music company "Worshipful Company of Musicians", the Oxford Municipality and the Queen for your music services in Oxford. What does this recognition mean to you?
I feel honored to have received all these coveted awards, which recognize, not only my personal contribution, but also that of my colleagues.
For more information regarding Dr Mario Papadopoulos and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, please visit the following official websites:
Pianist and founder/musical director of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra at the University of Oxford, Dr Marios Papadopoulos. Photα: Chris Gloag.
Dr. Marios Papadopoulos said that music is his life. Photo: Chris Gloag.