AAM Explore


18 June 2013

Bojan Čičić in discussion

Why is baroque music so popular in the 21st century?

"The popularity of this music has never really faded since Mendelssohn famously directed the first performance for decades of Bach's St Matthew Passion in 1829. Think of the popularity Handel's Messiah has endured throughout the centuries in England, or the Corelli violin sonatas that have never been out of print since their first publication in 1700. As a musician I like to think that what must have brought the audiences to this music was the democratic way in which baroque musical style seems to work: all the parts and voices seem to have an equally important role, passing the ideas and motifs between each other. This sense of order and cultivated communication between musicians on stage may easily translate to the needs of our world today where radicalisation and extreme views could profit from, for example, the way Bach's fugues or 17th century consort music work in finding a dialogue between two or more opposing views."

And what's the place of historically-informed performance in a modern world?

I would go further and say that the historically-informed practices that AAM uses should be treated as means to coming closer to composer's ideas, in order to know more about what instruments he had and could hear, what kind of sound world they produced, and finally what society or world-view he was part of. Much like a historian tries to answer elusive answers about the times gone by, we are trying to come close to the most elusive of art forms, music. Of course, the first rule is to feel that the music speaks to us in the present day, otherwise we would be doing something else.

Tell us about the music you'll be playing on tour – Handel, Purcell and Vivaldi? 

"Purcell is seen as the most talented, melodious, and by some the most popular composer not just from the Baroque period, but from England in general. Handel's career in London one generation after Purcell's death has been well documented. When Handel reached London, he studied Purcell's music knowing the popularity his predecessor still had, but also mastering his technique of writing music in English that Handel needed later in his life when he started writing oratorios in English. Today, Handel is seen as an unsurpassable master of beauty, virtuosity and drama which he achieved in his operas. What Handel was to the human voice, Vivaldi was to his instrument, the violin. No other baroque composer writes with the same simplicity, giving back so much emotional impact as Vivaldi can in his violin concertos."

What does the future hold for the Academy of Ancient Music?

"I believe the orchestra is in an ideal place to be a torchbearer for baroque and classical music to new audiences such as the ones we will meet on this tour. What is seen almost as a mainstream in Europe is still finding new audiences in concert venues in Korea, China, the Eastern Europe. What brought me to this music was the enthusiasm the performers of this music have when they rehearse, perform or talk about baroque music. I hope we will be able to change someone else's views on music, just like mine were changed when I first heard baroque music played on historical instruments."

This interview was commissioned for Korean Mail Business News.

 View Bojan's profile on the AAM website