So the Berlin Philharmonic has come and gone and the event is over! People paid lots of money to sit in the midday sun and listen to music – so does that mean that we are truly becoming culture vultures? Is the accolade of European Capital of Culture having an impact? Or, is it that the Berlin Philharmonic as a revered product, attracts?
I have met and interviewed several of the musicians in the orchestra, and listen almost daily to the thousands of recordings with much pleasure and joy, but did not attend the concert as I didn’t want to attend an ‘event’ or listen to a concert with amplification outside.
The ticket demand though did interest me and I question why in Cyprus, we cannot with our orchestra reach the same level of respect or at least strive towards it. The Berlin Philharmonic was founded by just 54 musicians who broke away from their previous conductor when he announced that they were going to be put on a fourth class train to Warsaw for a concert. Their first concert hall was in a building previously used as an ice rink! They are now ranked in the top 10 orchestras around the world and have a fan base of millions. It didn’t happen overnight – it was a result of a meticulous attention to detail and quality. The brand, Berlin Philharmonic is the result!
Cyprus is in dire need of a long term cultural policy devoid of political interference. It has to have a mission and aims, fiscal planning with a path properly paved. It needs extensive research from successful models, such as the Berlin Philharmonic which needs to be done within a stipulated time frame. While many may cry that there is no budget, my reply is that it is not only about budget – it’s about keeping to the long term objectives and building a future. Cyprus does not have a proper concert hall (with brilliant acoustics for music), we don’t have an opera and ballet company – so our youth leave, and our orchestra doesn’t have permanent trombonists!
Of course, in the past 10 years, there have been steps forward such as the CYSO now performing for the September opera each year, but progress is far too slow which I put down to a lack of Cultural Policy. Or am I completely mistaken and there is a Cultural Policy of which we don’t know? We have a huge amount of talent and potential here, and should be the cultural hub of the Mediterranean.
By Saskia Constantinou