25 June 2018

Sigismund Toduță Festival 2018

With some delay I write a few lines on this year’s Sigismund Toduță Festival, which took place from 11 to 17 May in Cluj-Napoca. This year’s was my third visit to the Festival.

The Festival is an impressive display of organisation by the staff at Academia de Muzică Gheorghe Dima, with strong support from a group of students in musicology and music management. They have established a tradition of running an international conference in parallel to a programme of concerts and masterclasses. The performers are staff and students from the Academy. The participants in the conference are staff and guests from other parts of Romania and from abroad. The programmes have a predominance of contemporary Romanian music, not excluding their own, that is, music by professors, graduates and students from the Gheorghe Dima.

My links with Romania, which I consider an important part of my life, hinge on the connection with the Sigismund Toduță Festival. (The relationship with the National Music University of Bucharest is less assiduous, although much valued too). Every time I go to Cluj I find new reasons to be impressed and grateful. This time the Festival had the good grace to recommend that the Academy award me an honorary doctorate, and the Academy had the good grace to agree.

The conferral took place in a short and tasteful ceremony on 15 May in the AMGD Hall. The wonderful composer Adrian Pop, a professor at the Academy, read the citation – referred to in Romanian by its Latin name, laudatio. This was an impressively well-researched outline of my life and career, prepared with no previous consultation with me. I had known Adrian Pop as an exceptionally gifted composer and, through the work of his disciples, as an inspirational teacher. As he expatiated on me, I was overcome by admiration for his gifts as a researcher too. Even the most loyal reader of this blog will agree that to prepare a lecture on me is not a simple matter of searching in one’s local library.

The ceremony was well organised and it ran smoothly. A group of staff and students were in attendance - people who, over the years, I have grown to esteem and like.    

The following day, a work of mine was performed by Jubilate Choir under Mihaela Cesa-Goje. The work is Tres canciones sobre poemas de Rachel, composed in 1976. In my previous visit to Cluj, they had chosen Notes from Underground and they had assigned the impressive Cappella Transylvannica and baritone Christian Hodrea to the task. Composed in 2016, Notes from Underground was then my most recent piece. There are forty years between these two works. If there is a hidden meaning to this neat symmetry I am yet to uncover it; it may just be  an elegant, but wholly accidental quirk of life, with no hidden meaning.

The concert on 16 May was also an opportunity to hear another work by the prolific Alexandru Murariu, Espaces IV. This is a beautifully crafted antiphony for choir and organ, which worked very effectively in the reverberant space of Cluj’s Piarist Church. 
Together with Sebastian Țună – with whom I also had the opportunity to become better acquainted – Murariu brings an injection of freshness and creativity to new music in Romania. I have faith that these two young composers’ sphere of action will spread; they deserve a wider audience.

Leaving Cluj felt harder this time. In my last few hours there I completed a valedictory message I had started in 2016 and I put it up on social media - and on this blog - as a parting present. A few days later, a talented student at the Academy, Edith Gergely, prepared a Romanian translation. I reproduce it below with her permission.

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