“Rewarding,” is how maestro Jens Georg Bachmann describes his time spent with the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. Having completed three years at this challenging post, Bachmann is now looking forward to other projects, but not before his Cyprus swan song.
“The double responsibility,” Bachmann said, “was certainly a challenge in time management, in physical and mental fitness. But it was also gratifying, because it is holistic and comprehensive since you work on the implementation of your vision simultaneously from two sides.
“As an artist,” he added, “I am a passionate orchestra builder. You have to be both goal and process-oriented. That can sometimes be meticulous in the work, but ultimately achieves the high results that not only attract but keep the audiences, as we have seen.”
Most significantly, it’s the substantial and sustained increase of audience attendance and ticket sales, according to the orchestra’s sales reports, that he considers a great accomplishment. “I am profoundly happy,” he said, “we could gain many new listeners, creating a larger core audience by my ways of regularly communicating with the audiences of every city in their unique way, besides attractive programmes performed with passion and dedication by the musicians.”
The attainments don’t stop there. International tours, a European festival participation and a series of video recordings which gradually will come out online and promote the orchestra nationally and internationally, also fall under the work of the maestro. In terms of elevating the orchestra’s musical recognition, Bachmann has also focused on collaborating in an academy style annually with the Youth Orchestra in big joint ventures and solidifying the orchestra’s contemporary music sector through a regular collaboration with the Centre of Cypriot Composers.
“With the board of directors,” he said, “I have re-created two full-time orchestra positions and one additional full-time office position to strengthen the orchestra on and off stage. With the musicians, I have designed a new all-year-round concert attire, produced by a local tailor.”
In his three years leading the orchestra, it has staged countless performances: Easter concerts, summer concerts, New Year’s celebrations… but is there one that stood out? “Too many exciting projects have been undertaken to single one out,” he said. “Certainly, the ones with renowned artists and repertoire the orchestra hasn’t played before” are performances to remember, fitting old and young audiences.
Young audiences and young musicians were another area Bachmann gave focus to by designing, conducting and hosting educational programmes. “For me, it is most crucial as well as genuine to nurture our future audiences with full commitment. The music should be entertaining, but also introduce the miracles and contents of our perennial masterpieces. Furthermore, how to learn to listen, as our hearing is one of our most subtle senses. Besides the ever-fascinating curiosity of the complexity of an orchestra, it is ultimately about igniting the young listeners with your own love and passion for music.”
Drawing to the close of his tenure, he was challenged with a situation no one before him had faced: the lockdown. Close to a rather busy time for the orchestra, organising Easter celebrations and then island-wide summer concerts, the pandemic and the lockdown postponed all plans, yet as we’ve seen, the orchestra bounced back quickly, streaming performances.
“For me the lockdown and all its side effects of isolation, loneliness and disorientation,” he said, “was a call for the indispensability of culture and the emotional power of music in particular. So, I asked all our stakeholders to join me in my vision to keep the musicians and our music active by weekly chamber music streamings. So, for 15 weeks until the end of the season, I conceived, recorded and edited chamber concert programmes that brought solace and delight into thousands of homes worldwide.”
What a way to close off his role.
But he hasn’t quite gone yet. Audiences can enjoy his work this coming weekend, as an opera production he is involved in will open the Kypria International Festival on Saturday and Sunday. La Serva Padrona by Italian Baroque composer Giovanni BaLsta Pergolesi is a short, delightful and humorous chamber opera which his director-colleague Andy Bargilly and Bachmann chose.
With the support of the Italian Embassy, the opera will be presented in Nicosia’s new Municipal Theatre and then in Limassol’s Pattihion on September 9. An all-Cypriot cast is involved, directed by the Italian Lev Pugliese. “I am excited to return into the orchestra pit with the CySO and bring a smile into your long-missed faces, saying good-bye to all of you,” Bachmann said.
La Serva Padrona
Italian Opera with an all-Cypriot cast. September 5-6- Nicosia Municipal Theatre, Nicosia. September 9. Pattihion Theatre, Limassol.