Sep 29, 2015

Interview: Cecilia Bernardini

Tafelmusik is grateful to Giuliana Dal Piaz, who originally conducted this interview for the Italian web magazine L’ape musicale.
From October 1 to 6 Toronto will host, among the activities of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the programme "Musik Mania", with Italian-Dutch Cecilia Bernardini as guest director and solo violinist. The programme includes music by Zelenka (Hypochondria), Geminiani (La Follia), Bach (4º Brandeburgh concert), Vivaldi (Il Proteo, o il mondo al rovescio), Telemann (suite La Bizzarre) and Keiser (Der lächerliche Prinz Jodelet).
We got in touch by phone with Bernardini in Amsterdam, where she lives:
Miss Bernardini, you played with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for the first time in 2014. You are coming back this fall ...
Last year I happened to replace violinist Stefano Montanari in Le Concert Spirituel, a Tafelmusik project. This year, I received a direct personal invitation from Tafelmusik. It was a beautiful surprise, very flattering, and I am happy to continue this kind of collaboration.
How the Musik Mania programme born? It’s a rather special programme. Can you tell us something about it?
It was an unexpected project. Tafelmusik asked me for one specific piece: Bach’s 4th Brandenburg Concerto. I started to think about what I could build around it, almost like a game. In this concerto there are two moments during the 1st and the 3rd movements when the violin kind of becomes “crazy”, playing some extreme virtuoso passages among lighter moments, and the solo violin part becomes a bit maniacal. So I thought about mania as a leading motif: it was occurring in music history, even before the famous La Follia by Corelli. It was impossible to build an entire program with works like Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso La Follia, so I looked for pieces following the theme of "mania", but in a variety of interpretations.
You are Dutch-Italian (and we are doing this interview in Italian, which you speak perfectly!). We know that you live in the Netherlands, direct an Ensemble in Edinburgh, and play in Europe as well as outside of Europe. Who is the musician Cecilia Bernardini?
As you mentioned, I am the product of two different cultures: I live in Amsterdam and consider myself mainly Dutch; I work a lot in Scotland, and just occasionally in Italy (where I go once or twice a year because a part of my family lives in Rome), but I grew up musically beside my father Alfredo, and I keep in touch with the Italian musical world. 
Despite your youth, you are an expert musician. Your rich resumé tells us that you play both modern and baroque violin. What can you tell us about this?
From a musical standpoint as well as from a personal one, it’s beautiful to draw from two different cultures! Most of the concerts I give now, let’s say 70 %, are baroque music. The two types of violin are different in many ways, and the instrument building is different, even if those differences are not as big as in oboes and flutes. Because of this, there are different playing techniques for baroque violin and modern violin. Even the muscles have to work differently since the modern violin is heavier, and the bow also weighs more.