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2016.11.16 Ara: Brexit will deprive a whole generation of young people of their rights

Ara.cat 16.11.2016

Simon Keenlyside: “Brexit will deprive a whole generation of young people of their rights”

by Xavier Cervantes

Simon Keenlyside: “El Brexit privarà dels seus drets una generació sencera de gent jove”

SK_Barcelona_recital_18.11.16©A  Bofill

On Friday, baritone Simon Keenlyside (born in London in 1959) is offering a recital accompanied by pianist Malcolm Martineau at the Liceu. In the first part Russian (Glazunov, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky) and French repertoire (Duparc and Poulenc), and in the second part lieder by Strauss and Schubert.

Singing which Schubert songs makes you happiest?

My whole life I have listened to Schubert songs, all of them. I made a list of those that seemed the most touching to me and after some years I would do the same and the list would be different. What has changed? I suppose me, myself. Just now I’m in love with the cycle “Schwanengesang”.

How would you explain the significance of Schubert’s music to a young person who doesn’t listen to classical music?

I wouldn’t try to. Classical music doesn’t need updating, or fireworks, or amplification, or sequins. In contrast to what the press say, there are millions of people who love classical music in the world. Within a period of 19 days almost 40,000 people came to see an opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. And that in just one opera house! Multiply that by hundreds of European opera houses and those that are being built in the Middle East. Opera is very much alive and also has a young audience. With regard to chamber music I don’t believe that everybody necessarily wants to go to Schubert recitals, but the public loves chamber music. When I was young I spent my days hanging out with friends, going to parties and concerts, but I never went to a lieder recital. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

You are a great fan of flamenco. The format of singer and guitarist in flamenco is similar to that of singer and pianist in lieder recitals and in both cases there is a very poetic text. Do you think that flamenco and lieder can transmit similar emotions?

Yes, you are absolutely right. I like flamenco, above all the classic style of Sabicas, Nino Ricardo, Pedro Soler and,of course, Paco de Lucia. I’m not an expert because it is a style that I began to like during the last twenty years, but I love it. Lorca talked about the duende of flamenco. Each culture has a name to explain that concept which has to do with a deep understanding of music, life and love and which does not need to be as extrovert as flamenco. In the end, when we sing and play, what we do is share an experience.

What memories do you have of the Liceu, where you sang Hamlet and Don Giovanni?

It is a great theatre, with very good acoustics for singers. I have very good memories of it. Besides, in Barcelona I was run into by a bus, but luckily I did get away alive. I was absent-minded, listening to a disc of Sabicas when the bus hit me. But I didn’t even get a scratch. I often think of that accident because the number of the bus (SP8059) was the date of my birth: August 1959!

Now you are singing Le nozze di Figaro in Milan and Macbeth in Vienna. Are you more interested in exploring more deeply roles that you have already sung or in accepting new challenges?

I like to continue investigating the roles that I have made mine during the last ten years. There are many things to discover in these characters and I find it fascinating to be able to understand them better. However, from time to time I will include new roles into my repertory.

What kind of music do you listen to at home, apart from opera and classical music?

I have read in an article that scientists can say what kind of person you are according to the music you listen to. Well, then they could be lucky with me … I love a lot of music and I listen to it all the time: Haydn’s string quartets, blues of the 30s and 40s, jazz, flamenco, the fado of Amália Rodrigues, the great Romanian singer Maria Tanase …There is a lot of marvellous music to discover.

Do you think Brexit will affect English musicians?

For me and the people around me the Brexit is a disgrace! I can’t understand it. Everything that has made me the person I am is a result of the cooperation with Europe. My job, life, my interests, my passions, even my family are fundamentally European. Our way of life, the democratic ideals are the legacy of millions of Europeans who fought for our liberties. I am deeply ashamed of what the British people did (by waving the flag in a box????) It’s a very big step backwards. I have Irish nationality ( thanks to my grandfather’s passport) and therefore I’ll continue to feel European. Brexit may not affect the older generations but will deprive a whole generation of young people of their rights and opportunities.

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