Spotlight on IT&T's leader Bojan Cicic
Tell us about 'Digital Spaghetti' - what prompted you to choose this title?
Actually, the title itself came from Judith Evans, but I will try and give you my impression behind the concept.
Both words digital and spaghetti could hold two different meanings; digital could mean violinist’s fingers as one's digits used in performing such a virtuosic music, but it could also mean something belonging to a digital age, and as such it would be considered contemporary, current, important and thus relevant. The last meaning is something that we all strive towards when performing music written over two centuries ago, seeing how can we make it important to the people of our own times.
Spaghetti could represent the Italian lifestyle and outlook to life, but it could also mean twists and turns that composers such as Locatelli and Vivaldi put the soloist through due to the level of virtuosity demanded when performing these concertos, that might seem as if the soloist’s hands become supple and agile like the spaghetti.
What do you find the most technically challenging thing about this sort of repertoire?
Last year I performed the Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Instruments of Time and Truth. Although this is the one concerto every violinist would have worked on when preparing for conservatoire level, I was amazed at just how much more difficult it was to perform this work on the gut strung violin. As the fully metal strung violins weren’t fully in use until the mid-20th century, this would have been the norm in the 19th century when Ferdinand David first performed Mendelssohn’s Concerto. In the same way, playing Locatelli’s Concertos on baroque violin is so much more demanding in terms of how many more things could go wrong, starting with intonation and sound quality compared to the modern violin, allowing the soloist very little space for a mistake. It is a bit like trying to play tennis using a wooden racket, rather than a more modern material. It is still possible to do amazing things, just a little bit harder to do. Regardless of this, I wouldn't want to change places with any other violinist, as I believe everything is possible on any given instrument. The violin I use is simply means of expression in the end.
Tell us a little bit about your instrument.
The violin I will be playing on tomight’s concert was made in Cremona around 1680's by the luthier Francesco Ruggieri. I had this instrument on loan by the Jumpstart Junior Foundation for 9 years now, a period in which I grew as a violinist with this instrument, performing music from the beginnings of the baroque period until the late 20th century. Sadly, my stint with this instrument is soon coming to an end, as I have to return the instrument in February 2019, having used my maximum amount of years on it. This will give an opportunity to a new generation of players to discover the vast sound world this instrument can give to a violinist. I am just glad that I made a few recordings on it. A few comes to my mind; Bach's Concerto for two violins with Rachel Podger, Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli's complete violin sonatas and Giovanni Giornovich's London Concertos with my group the Illyria Consort.
Which projects, personal or professional, are you particularly looking forward to in the next few months?
On the 5th of November I will perform another virtuosic piece by Vivaldi, his Concerto RV562a for solo violin, oboes, horns, timps and strings at the Wigmore Hall in London with the ensemble Florilegium, then on the 23rd of November I will lead the Academy of Ancient Music with clarinetist Michael Collins at the Oxford Town Hall in a programme based on Mozart and his contemporaries. Finally in early January 2019 I will finish recording Carbonelli's violin sonatas No.7-12, after which I will return my violin to its owner in Amsterdam, hoping for more good fortune in acquiring an instrument of such power and richness of colour.