We need more women interpreting, directing, composingsays Zoi Tsokanou
Xalapa, Ver., Zoi Tsokanou, a conductor of Greek origin, and the Mexican composer Georgina Derbez are in a small room in the Tlaqná room, in the state capital. They are sitting next to each other, with the sheet music spread out on a wooden table. Derbez makes comments in English about the work and Tsokanou makes notes in the margins of the score.
Tsokanou, a conductor of Greek origin, is in Mexico for the first time to participate as guest conductor of the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra (OSX), for concert number nine of season one of 2023, which takes place today. It will be made up of Suite dodecaneseby Yannis Konstantinidis; Symphony No. 3, by the French composer Louise Farrenc, and concerto for clarinet ascent to heavenly, of the Mexican Georgina Derbez.
It is 9:10 on March 14. Tsokanou and Derbez are focused; nor does the large window, overlooking the gardens that make up the campus for Culture, Arts and Sports of the Universidad Veracruzana (UV), distract them. For them it is a source of natural light, and thus they can better review the scores.
A week ago, Tsokanou saw the movie store, centered on Lydia Tár. In addition to Cate Blanchett’s brilliant performance, he was pleased that this 158-minute piece moved away from the romanticized narratives of music.
I liked it because it’s not the typical classical music movie, about the romantic side of music; it is a new film. It’s dark, very real. Cate Blanchett does an amazing job. I really liked the film, although it may be difficult for people who are not very related to classical music.he referred during a chat with The Day, that elapsed between the score review with Derbez and his second rehearsal with the OSX.
Tsokanou does not identify with the central character of the film; he even considers that Tár and she have very different characters.
Zoi is charismatic, smiles easily; when she is asked what is her communication style with the musicians, sweet, energetic, affectionate or absolute authority, she defines herself as open, not very strict.
This is my character, my temperament; as I speak with you, so I speak with the orchestra. He warns that he has never had to assume a masculine role to develop professionally:
I’ve always been able to be myself.
After the interview, Zoi Tsokanou will go directly to the main Tlaqná venue and have her second rehearsal with the OSX members. As is normal in the first meetings between conductor and musicians, the pieces do not flow smoothly. Rather, you work on specific fragments.
The art of discovery
At one point, Zoi stops the practice: there is a musician who does not follow the beat that she marks. After an exchange at a distance, the woman is not satisfied and, in an attitude of humility, she gets off the lectern, goes to where the performer is and together they look at her sheet music. The interpreter has a different one. Mystery solved.
during the film Warehouse It is argued that the art of interpretation is the art of discoveries, and that the greatest discoveries happen during rehearsals. But Tsokanou thinks that these discoveries take place both in rehearsals and when he is at the concert.
The moment of true magic occurs at the concert, it is there that the strongest discovery occurs, when the orchestra, the conductor and the public interact.
Zoi Tsokanou is since the 2017-2018 season Principal and Artistic Director of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra. Among her most recent performances, the ones in which she conducted the Barcelona Symphony, the Lille National, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Sofia Philharmonic, the Rostock Philharmonic, and the Orchestra and Choir of the Spanish Radio Television stand out.
Regarding the challenges that women who want to be conductors must face, Tsokanou considers that there are women who preceded her who paved the way, and she believes that all the efforts she had to make to direct one of the most important orchestras in Greece are due to the difficulties inherent to the profession.
I had good times; For example, I was never the only woman studying directing, 20 years ago it was possible that it was very different, but I had better times.
However, the guest conductor acknowledges that during their training they rarely played works by women composers. She highlighted that, in this field, more women composers still need to be discovered, like Louise Farrenc, from 1840, whom not many people identify.
We need women interpreting, directing, composing.
Zoi Tsokanou believes that there is a boom in women conductors in the world today, and from a critical position, she hopes that it is not just a matter of trend,
but because it is the best artist, it does not matter if they are men or women, but because he is a good artist, that is what gives us the opportunity to be on the stool.
In an exercise in memory of the people who have influenced his career, Tsokanou thinks of Bernard Haitink (1929-2021), who was director of the London Philharmonic orchestra, author of the book Directing is a mystery and his mentor. She claims that he prompted her to follow what she felt in her heart.
Zoi Tsokanou visits Mexico for the first time; she arrived a few days ago, and she has been able to taste the tortillas. She has a coffee tasting in Coatepec scheduled for the course of the week on her itinerary, and she is excited, not only because of the Mexican experience, but because the concert she is preparing is made up of three works that are premieres in Xalapa .
This concert has three premieres: it is a discovery of new people, of new music, and that makes me very excited.concludes the first woman in history to conduct a major orchestra in Greece.