Pianist David Greilsammer Leads a Break with Conservative Practices
Here at String Visions, we’ve always been an advocate of revolutionizing classical music. Bringing orchestras out of the dark ages, attracting new listeners, and reshaping the classical world as a constantly adapting art are but a few of the ideas we’ve written about. This might sound like a difficult task, but there are many simple solutions that could go a long way. Change up concert programs by pairing the works of revered masters with contemporary composers or rarely heard works; hold concerts in unusual venues instead of stuffy old concert halls; experiment with other genres of music—such as jazz and electronic—and other artistic mediums in order to create a more engaging experience.
These simple solutions are just a few of the ideas shared by the pianist and conductor David Greilsammer in a recent interview. Born in Israel and educated at the Juilliard School, Greilsammer is an adventurous pianist known for his unique and unusual recitals. The concerts typically have programs that break the rules of the classical establishment: Scarlatti is paired with Cage and dance or media is mixed on stage with the music. As the director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, he has pushed the limits of concert venues, conducting performances in an airport and encouraging a shift from concert halls to nightclubs. Most important to Greilsammer, however, is the role of the musician in the modern world. He thinks that musicians must think more artistically and try to change the world in which they perform:
Playing beautiful concerts is not the most important part of being a musician. What really counts is why we are artists, and what we can do to bring new important ideas to the surface. Our responsibility as artists is not only to provide entertainment. An artist has to change the world – I’m sorry if that sounds like a cliché, but I truly believe in it.
To Greilsammer, being an artist in classical music means bringing in new and young audiences. He wants to change the world by opening it up to what music has to offer; the creative element comes from new ideas and projects, exciting collaborations that create a concert experience no one has seen before. Although the conservative “museum” style approach to concerts is an established doctrine, it is possible to break free from this rut. Instead of going to a concert to hear the same pieces we’ve heard over and over again, going to a concert can be like going to a modern art gallery. We would go to see new sights, things that are unusual but, at the same time, things are affecting and beautiful. A concert can—and should—be a cultural experience, not a private club where the elite go to hear a selected canon of works over and over again. David Greilsammer is leading the way for a new generation of musicians, and personally I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.