George Harliono on the state of classical music in Europe

George Harliono on the state of classical music in Europe

Talented pianist shares his thoughts with TheMayor.EU

When we think of classical music, in general terms, and piano music in particular, one way or another, our minds inevitably turn to the middle of the Romantic era of the 19e century in Europe that gave birth to titans, such as Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. Nowadays, however, continental Europe (at least as far as EU territory is concerned) may have lost some of that traditional primacy.

With Brexit, this loss is perhaps even more pronounced, given that one of the world’s most recognized piano talents, a 20-year-old named George Harliono, is from London. He would like to place his city on the global classical music map, but also believes that the UK and the EU are far behind Russia when it comes to public awareness and appreciation of fine performances by classical music.

There is enormous support for classical music all over Russia, which I would say is due to the importance given to music in Russian colleges and high schools ”, he thinks. “It created a lot of excellent Russian musicians. The UK is far behind Russia in terms of children’s music education, which I think is something we should definitely be looking to improve for future generations.”.

George Harliono and Andrea Bocelli: an ongoing collaboration

Harliono, however, has many reasons to also be grateful for the appreciation Russians place on classical music and young talent. He himself has been recognized as one of them, having made his concerto debut at the age of 12 and since then playing with prestigious Russian orchestras, such as the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, among others.

On the question of where in the EU can one find the best venues and the most admiring audiences, his choices fall on Musikverein (Vienna) and Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), given their long traditions and “vibrant musical histories” .

His favorite place to play in the Old Continent, however, has been the Berlin Kammermusiksaal.

It exudes a unique intimate atmosphere for a room of this size. Each concert hall has its own character and personality ”, George explained. “It’s not just the acoustics that give a concert hall its character, it’s everything from the architecture, the lighting, the seating arrangement to the backstage. It is a combination of all these aspects that can produce either a very pleasant environment in which to play or an environment that can be problematic.”.

This year, the young virtuoso also received a deserved recognition from none other than the Italian singer Andrea Bocelli.

From this meeting, he declared: “Andrea was kind enough to invite me to visit him at his home in Forte dei Marmi, where we spent time playing music together. He had invited me to play with him, although Covid 19 has made this impossible so far, I hope we can reschedule a collaboration in the future”.

George Harliono during his recent visit to Andrea Bocelli in Tuscany. Source: George Harliono Facebook page

What can be done to raise the profile of classical music in the EU?

Perhaps these are the types of important collaborations that could bring high-quality classical music to a wider audience. In today’s environment, promotion is done in a variety of ways and a lot of that is played out through rewards. George Harliono has received several competition awards. He also mentions that Europe is doing “have highly regarded awards, such as the International Classical Music Awards, Gramophone Classical Awards, and Echo Klassik Awards, to name a few”.

However, at the risk of sounding rude, we would suggest that his homeland do this thing a little better with the creation of a biannual classical music version of the BRIT Awards, a well-known mark in pop music accolades. At the last edition of the Classic BRIT Awards (held in 2018), Harliono was shortlisted for the Sound of Classical Award. A feat that has probably served to enhance its notoriety with the general public as well.

The good news is that whether you live in the EU, UK or Russia, you get to see and hear George’s talent thanks to upcoming performances, some of which have been postponed from the last year. He will play Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.1 at the Frankfurt Opera on February 27-28, 2022, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto 2 at the Riga Jurmala Festival next summer, as well as numerous recitals in various cities of ‘Europe.

He will also perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 at Zaryadye Hall in Moscow on December 14 and give recitals at Wigmore Hall in London on December 7 and at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg on December 18.

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