3 Questions with Conductor Rossen Milanov
On March 26, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra will again put a classical spin on post-work drinks with their free, 90-minute happy-hour program. Sure, the complimentary appetizers and drink specials are appealing, but we’re most excited to check out Bulgarian conductor Rossen Milanov, who will join the symphony for the evening’s performance. Milanov is the music director for the Princeton Symphony Orchsetra, as well as the principal conductor of Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias (OSPA) in Spain.
You’ve performed with many ensembles—including the Milwaukee and Baltimore symphony orchestras, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra—and have collaborated with world-famous artists. What’s it like playing with a constantly evolving roster of musicians?
Making music with a soloist is one of the highest forms of partnership. It is a process of attentive, mutual listening, constant adjustment to the way the musical process is evolving and a significant dose of intuition. My most memorable experiences have been with soloists who have a spirit of collaboration while performing a concerto they might have performed countless times. I can never forget a concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center—with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist—in Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. As with almost all summer concert programs, there was not the luxury of extra rehearsal time—all we had was 140 minutes to prepare an entire program of overture, concerto and a symphony. We played through the piece, adjusted a few transition passages and saw each other at the concert that evening. During the performance I remember how sincere and responsive Yo-Yo Ma was to every phrasing idea, color change or point of inflection that came from me and the orchestra. It was a perfect example of how a spirit of collaboration and the art of “being in the moment” was unfolding and creating a truly unique performance. The greatest soloists I have performed with have that great ability to collaborate!
As for your performance with the CSO, what are you looking forward to?
This is my second time with CSO, and I keep wonderful memories of our work together a couple years ago. CSO is an orchestra that has an edge and a spirit of openness and exploration, which is very appealing to me. Their professionalism is unquestionable, but their passionate love for music is something I feel very attracted to. This time we will be exploring together a completely different repertoire, and I am very much looking forward to Symphony No. 88 by Haydn and the truly clever work by Thomas Adés, “Three Studies after Couperin.” It’s translating to modern language the music of one of the most original and enigmatic composers of the 18th century.
As this is a free concert—with a happy-hour show to boot—the audience will likely include people who are new to the world of the symphony. Any words of wisdom for those experiencing classical music for the first time?
An open mind is a must in any new thing. The music could be intriguing in so many ways: a stimulating exercise for the mind, a collection of sentimental memories, a series of aural images, a world that exists with its own rules of time and space. For me it has always been very exciting to watch the communication among the musicians, the non-verbal transmittal of ideas and the communal sense and special connection between the musicians and the audience.