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Schumann at Pier2

Interview at Radio Centre Ville

This is a transcript of an interview with director Christian Berger, done in connection with the screening of "Schumann at Pier2" at the World Film Festival 2012 in Montreal.

Transcript of “Arts Notebook” on Radio Centre-Ville FM 102,3 Montreal

Date of transmission: September 1st, 2012, 12.30 o'clock

Host: Stanley Asher

Guest: Christian Berger

Stanley Asher:

We gonna be talking about the music of Schumann and the guest we have here, Mr. Christian Berger, we met two years ago, when you put together a film on Beethoven and in both cases for Deutsche Welle.

Christian Berger

That’s right. Thank you for inviting me, taking the time. I am glad to be here.

Stanley Asher

Let me first talk about the title “Schumann at Pier2”- Pier2 is an unlikely place to have a symphony concert, but this is in the city of Bremen, you have this huge space, how was it adapted, because it is no longer used for it’s original purpose?

Christian Berger

Actually it is used for rock and pop concerts today. Our idea was to find a space a venue, which would enable us, to make a film production, a tv production, with all the possibilties of modern techniques like cranes, dollies and steadycam.

Stanley Asher

They are all there?

Christian Berger

Yeah … You could not do that in a normal concert hall, so we were glad to find this pictoresquevenue in the harbour of Bremen.

Stanley Asher

How was the acoustic?

Christian Berger

Actually that was a little bit a problem, but we were very lucky. I think it was the first week in Bremen without rain. If it had rained, we really had a problem, because you would have heard all the raindrops..

Stanley Asher

You hear the drops? Oh my goodness …

Christian Berger

Yes, it was a factory hall, built in the 1960/70s for repairing ships, so it its not built for producing classical music.

Stanley Asher

This is the second film, both which concern some of the work, I hope I pronounce right -Paavo Järvi.

Christian Berger

That’s right.

Stanley Asher

Who is a very famous conductor born in Finland, now living in the States, is it no?

Christian Berger

No, he is born in Tallin, Estonia, but his name is finish and the Estonian people and the finish a very much connected.

Stanley Asher

Oh, my mistake. And he is a conductor of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, which is a different kind of orchestra as the film explains, than a standard city orchestra.

Christian Berger

Yes, it is an independent …

Stanley Asher

What do you mean with independent?

Christian Berger

Most orchestras in Germany have like 80 / 90 percent public funding. The ticket selling seems not that important. But for them it is essential, they are touring all the time, giving many many concerts and doing crazy things like we have been doing with them, so I think it is an unusual orchestra but also a very professional and very good orchestra.

Stanley Asher

The music is gorgeous and the sound wonderful, but what is most interesting for me is how it explains the music of Schumann in many different ways: you have the conductor and members of orchestra. I didn’t know too much about the music of Schumann, but I think you learn a good deal.

Christian Berger

Actually thats my approach to give a little bit of education without being boring. Giving information to be able to understand the music better, this is one of the things we tried to do. I hope it works.

Stanley Asher

It has worked for me. So I am not the age group of the audience in the film, so I was great surprised when the film opens, when you see at first the building, and the purpose, what happened and how it was built and it switched to the audience and you see the kind of people, which you see probably on a rock concert, very young audience. Do they take the classical music?

Christian Berger

Yes they really enjoyed it. But, its not a normal concert where you could buy tickets …

Stanley Asher

… everything is prepared for the program?

Christian Berger

… it’s a big film production with an audience - rather than a normal concert with tv cameras.

Stanley Asher

How did you get this audience. I almost had the feeling that there was a rock concert the day before and when they finished, you kidnapped them all to stay there an to listen classical music, that’s not true?

Christian Berger

Actually that’s a story going back to the first film, because in “The Beethoven Project” I explained that the orchestra has its rehearsal stage in a big school, so the audience came from schools in Bremen, because they have this approach playing classical music for young people.

Stanley Asher

But they generally enjoyed it, I could see!

Christian Berger

Yes, I hope so.

Stanley Asher

So, Schumann is he an as easily accessible composer as Beethoven or is his music a little more difficult to follow? Because you explained it quite well.

Christian Berger

Yes I think it’s a little bit more difficult. Because it has not these big hits like the fifth symphony of Beethoven or the ninth or the Eroica. It’s a little bit more complicated, there are wonderful beautiful melodies in it, but you have to concentrate to it.

Stanley Asher

So the film runs 90 minutes approximately, and its gonna been shown in your part of the world on Deutsche Welle TV, because they are the ones who produced the film.

Christian Berger

The film will be also released on DVD and Blu-ray …

Zwischenfrage – zweiter Moderator

Stanleyis this playing soon?

Stanley Asher

Yes its playing on the first of September, that’s today, at 4 and tomorrow at 1:50. At Cinema Quartier Latin, Number 9. So you are talking about it in advance, great!

Christian Berger

It’s a big venue and I hope many of your listeners will be interested come. I will be there for questions and answers.

Stanley Asher

Thank you very much to Christian Berger!