Culture 17:36 16/03/2022 Armenia

Freddy Kempf: Maybe someday I will find the time to learn Armenian, perform works of Armenian composers

Author Hasmik Hakobyan

Acclaimed pianist Freddy Kempf will hold a concert in Armenia. His concert with the State Symphony Orchestra of Armenia is scheduled to be held in Yerevan’s Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall on March 17.

The pianist, who has performed in numerous countries around the world, will play Beethoven at the Yerevan concert.

Ahead of the concert, interviewed the talented pianist. First, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give an interview to You have visited Armenia several times, how do you feel being back to our country?

Freddy Kempf: This is my fourth visit. I am happy to be in Armenia and play for the Armenian audiences. After all, I am doing my favorite job, I love playing. It was a hard time for musicians due to the Covid pandemic and now I am enjoying my work even more.

Armenia is one of the countries where interesting music events always take place, so it feels good to be in this country, to get acquainted with its culture and history. Unbelievably, you started playing the piano at the age of four, and held your first performance in London when you were 6 years old.Do you remember your first time on stage?

Freddy Kempf: Yes, I do remember. I remember all the important events where I played as a child. My first professional performance took place at the age of six, and I performed Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London when I was eight. Did your parents choose the piano for you?

Freddy Kempf: My parents are not musicians. It happened quite by accident when it was decided that I would play the piano. When I was four years old, my parents and I went to a toy store to buy me a Christmas present. And I got to pick out a toy for myself. I asked them how much they were going to spend on the gift. And my parents bought the electric piano I wanted. It marked the beginning of my musical journey. Your father is German, your mother is Japanese, and you grew up in England. Does this cultural mix help you in your professional career? Which culture attracts you more, the Eastern or the Western one?

Growing up in England, I never considered it my homeland. Now I live in Germany, I feel at home there apparently because it is my father's home country, that's why I feel good there. This amalgamation is very important to me, because every nation has its own culture, language and history. Naturally, the moisture of it all has a great impact on me. I know oriental culture well enough, but it's not so close to my heart. Piano, violin, flute… what is the next instrument you would like to play?

Freddy Kempf: Yes, I have also been playing the flute and the violin since I was a kid. Little by little, I tried to play on a number of instruments at the conservatory. In recent years I have started playing the guitar as well, but it is only a hobby. Now my son is playing the cello, I've studied this instrument to help him. Today you are not just a pianist, but also a conductor. What is the most attractive thing about conducting for you?

Freddy Kempf: Usually, while playing you always have to know what the other instruments in the orchestra are doing, but the path to becoming a conductor was very accidental. A few years ago we were preparing for a concert, I was to perform Piano Concerto No.5. The musicians of the orchestra suggested that I conduct my own concert. I was wondering if I could do it or not. Then I decided to give it a try. Since then I have been at the conductor's stand repeatedly.

In fact, pianists are successful because there are many music pieces written for the piano orchestra, but if a composition has no piano part, in this case I can conduct and enjoy that music. I like playing more, it's my life. Doing your career, you have performed in the best concert halls of the world, sharing a stage with leading orchestras. This is not the first time you have collaborated with the State Symphony Orchestra of Armenia either. What would you say about your collaboration with the orchestra, what impressions do you have?

Freddy Kempf: The interesting thing is that once you collaborate with an orchestra, and then you see a completely different orchestra. Over the years, the orchestra's performance has leveled up, the musicians of the State Symphony Orchestra of Armenia offer high quality performances.

I am always eager to work with young conductors and performers, because they are more enthusiastic and strive to do better, which I appreciate, so I enjoy working with the orchestra. Despite having a busy concert schedule you have found time to visit Armenia. I wonder what brings you to our country?

Freddy Kempf: I live in the mountains and get a lot of pleasure from the local nature. I love Armenian food and wine. In case I get an offer, I am always ready to come to Armenia. Do you have any special musical preferences? It is about composers, genres, works.

Freddy Kempf: It's hard to say, because I take great pleasure in playing works by numerous composers, in fact, pianists have a large repertoire. I belong among those people, who like what they are performing at the moment. If I perform the same piece later, which is often the case, I begin to experience it anew.

With regard to composers, I feel a great emotional connection to Beethoven. My connection is natural, and I don't think much when performing Beethoven. You could say it's close to my heart. My father is German, and German culture holds a special place in my heart. Are you familiar with Armenian music? Have you ever performed a composition by an Armenian composer?

Freddy Kempf: I have never performed a work by an Armenian composer. Because of my busy schedule I don't have much time to decide what to perform at concerts myself. But everything is still ahead of me, of course, the desire is there, someday I will definitely perform the works of Armenian composers as well. Music requires a lot of dedication and takes a lot out of a musician. Have you ever thought about choosing another career?

Freddy Kempf: At first, I treated music as a hobby, but later it became an important part of my life. I have never once regretted it. Many times I thought I could take up another job, but I never thought I would do it instead of music. Learning new languages is your hobby. How many languages do you know?

Freddy Kempf: It is very interesting to learn foreign languages, I have tried to learn more than 30 languages, but I speak 10 languages. Is the Armenian language among them?

Freddy Kempf: When I came to Armenia I wanted to learn Armenian too, but I have to spare some time for that, which is difficult, because I have a heavy workload; concerts and four children take a lot of my time. Probably someday I will have that time, I will learn Armenian as well, but I have to note that there don't seem to be any available manuals from English to Armenian. You are constantly surrounded by sounds. Don't you want to be in silence at least sometimes?

Freddy Kempf: Of course I do, I like to be in silence. In Armenia, for instance, it is more peaceful for me, because in your country people mostly speak one language, but I do not understand Armenian, so it’s quiet for me. In other countries or at the airport, where different languages are spoken, I am quite tense; I understand them, my brain is constantly working.

Often for recreation I give preference to sports where there is no noise. For example, skiing, swimming, because you can't hear anything underwater.

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