In a month overshadowed by yet another war, Gourzi’s music reminds us that art can soothe the soul
The cry of war is heard as far as the German capital. Israel, Gaza Strip and in the background Ukraine. Within such a fast-paced political-military context, art takes a back seat or is simply not a priority in the information flow. In early October, exactly one day after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, the top German classical music awards Opus Klassik at Berlin’s Konzerthaus it was quiet, without perhaps the prominence it would have received under other circumstances. Composer of the year Constantia Gourzi – composer, principal musician and professor at the University of Music and Theater in Munich – for her album Whispers released by Sony Classic.
It’s another world the musical world of Gourzi, as it unfolds through the album Whispers. A world in complete contrast to the ugliness of destruction. It is the world of nature, from which we have moved away or arrogantly destroy, it is the sounds of the earth that we have forgotten. The quietness and the essential beauty of a natural landscape that costs nothing and yet now seems elusive, expensive to see.
“The idea was to write a series of pieces for viola and piano, which take their inspiration from nature. I wanted to create a dialogue between the voice of nature, if it existed, and man. Let’s listen to what nature tells us today and what messages it can give us in order to use our attitude and respect towards it. And maybe we should take a step to protect her and with her to protect ourselvesConstantia Gourzi said in an interview with DW at the Konzerthaus in Berlin on the sidelines of the award.
Whispers of the wind and melodies of the sea
The titles chosen by Gourzi for the album’s musical pieces, accompanied by Nils Menkemeier and William Youn, are indicative: Wind Whispers, Evening at the window II, Call of the Bees ( The Call of the Bees), Melodies of the Sea. Balm for the soul, sounds that capture that childhood unmediated relationship with the elements of nature, the air, the sea, the trees. The eye’s attention to the details of natural beauty, union, transition, transcendence.
Gourzi’s minimalistic and at the same time full of genuine feeling music, without unnecessary embellishments, displays of references or musical perfection, seems to take the listener by the hand on a Sunday walk in the countryside. With clouds, raindrops but also sparkling rays of light or reflections. “I think that music can awaken man’s responsibility towards nature and himself. We always need some stimuli, whether emotional, auditory or visual, to change our attitude towards an event. And music helps and supports us to do that» observes Constantia Gourzi.
“The composer of 20,000,000 streams”
With a glance on the internet one can find numerous references in various languages about the conductor and composer Gourzi. A rich discography, an important educational work and a long career on international stages outside the Greek borders, uninterrupted since 1987, the year he left Athens. But also with a huge commercial appeal to listeners. Not only of the older Central European generations, those leavened with Mozart and Beethoven, but also of the younger ones. The success of her latest album on new online platforms is no accident. After all, she has been described as “composer of 20,000,000 streams”.
For her, this does not change anything, as long as the essence and the ultimately personal effort of the musical process remains the same painstaking. “I don’t depend so much on numbers,” Constantia Gourzi tells DW, “but of course I’m glad that a lot of people are listening to this music, this album. That means there is a vein of interest and maybe a vein of energy that people understand. And this gives me great joy because I understand that what I feel and want to give through music has an effect and an impact”.
At the Opus Klassik award in Berlin, however, there was one more important distinction with a Greek touch. The Philharmonic Wind Orchestra Sächische Bläserphilarmonie, with director Varvara Venetikidou, was honored with the Musical Ensemble of the Year award.
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