Beatrice Rana against prejudices on classical music

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A young audience to reach and involve, a repertoire to expand and update, a series of prejudices to sweep away. These are some of the challenges of classical music in our times, according to Beatrice Rana, a pianist of great international renown who regularly tours the stages that matter.

His lively and expressive eyes smile when, before the interview, he talks about his London concerts that have just ended. Now a series of exhibitions awaits her in the United States, Canada, Europe and then in July the seventh edition of the “Classiche forme” festival, which she founded and directed in Lecce. Even when speaking of this creature of hers emotion and transport emerge.

Thirteen appointments are scheduled from 17 to 23 July, also set in the hanging gardens of the Academy of Fine Arts, the sixteenth-century city walls and Palazzo Maresgallo, a historic residence in the heart of the city. The events this year will also be extended to other municipalities in Salento, in the Gothic Basilica of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in Galatina and in the historic village of Casarano.

Beatrice, you are an internationally established musician, but it seems to me that you care a lot about the bond with your land, that is Lecce.

I am very attached to Lecce, to Salento, but then in general to my nation, Italy. My job often takes me abroad and I am convinced that Italy has a beauty and strength that is difficult to find elsewhere. I like to think I can somehow give back what this place gave me when I was little, because I lived in Italy until I was eighteen. Meeting internationally renowned artists, getting to know music I’ve never heard and bringing all of this to Lecce for a week is a dutiful act of restitution for me.

Summer is also the season for festivals. What is special about ‘Classic shapes’?

There are incredible artists such as the flautist Emmanuel Pahud, the soprano Rosa Feola, the cellists Mario Brunello and Giovanni Sollima and then many others with a repertoire ranging from the well-known Mendelssohn Octet to the very rare Ligeti quartet. In addition, being primarily young, I wanted young musicians like the Marmen Quartet, which is one of the most rampant quartets, but also very young musicians from the best academies in Italy, such as Santa Cecilia, Fiesole, Avos. On stage there will be no difference of generation.

Does classical music need contemporaneity?

Absolutely, but above all it needs life. Classical music does not speak of ancient things, but of emotions, feelings and events that we experience every day. Putting it in a different context from the red velvets of the theaters is also an experiment to make everyone participate in this experience.

Is there also a need for a renewal of the repertoire performed in concerts?

There is always a tendency to underestimate the public, in the sense that the organizers are rightly afraid of not filling the halls and program the great masterpieces that we all know. For example as a pianist I often perform Tchaikovsky’s first concerto. Instead, I believe that the public is less biased than we think and is sincerely open to beauty. For this reason I use ‘Classiche forme’ as a laboratory for experiencing beauty and in these six years of the festival I have understood that the public is not prejudiced in any way.

From your point of view, what is the classical music audience today?

I think it is very varied and I also believe that social networks have opened a different window. Unfortunately in Italy we have a great lack of musical education in schools: this has put a great barrier between the stage and the general public. Social networks, on the other hand, are opening up this new way of interacting even with people who would not normally have access to classical music. I think there is a desire to discover the beauty and I’m working hard to renew the audience, because it’s a fact that our audience in Italy is getting on with the years and I want to have a heterogeneous audience.

I find what you said about social media interesting. How can they intervene in the process of bringing the general public closer to classical music?

By making people understand what classical music really is, which is the victim of so many prejudices that have accumulated over the years, such as: ‘Classical is for old people, it is a music distant from our days, it is a music that is not understood …’. Instead, all this is the result of the stratification of prejudices. In my opinion, social media can create a direct link between music and the listener, demonstrating that there is nothing scary about going to hear a classical concert and that it can indeed be one of the most shocking experiences in life, because it can be exciting, moving, it can really open up glimpses of knowledge.