Ayyub Guliyev: Hungary takes special place in my work [INTERVIEW]

30 November 2020 10:32 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

Ayyub Guliyev is among cultural figures who successfully represent Azerbaijan at the international area.

Over the past years, the Honored Artist of Azerbaijan has collaborated with such prestigious orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (United Kingdom), Hamburg Klassik (Germany), Radio France, Lamoure, Elios (France) orchestras, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Wiener Consilium (Austria), Toscanini Philharmonic (Italy), Kolors Symphony Orchestra (Greece), Sichuan and Kunmin Philharmonic Orchestras (China), Danube Orchestra (Hungary),etc.

For national conductor, the year 2020 is full of new projects. In his interview with Azernews, he shared some of them.

Hungary

Hungary takes a special place in the life of Ayyub Guliyev. Over the past years, the national conductor has successfully cooperated with multiple Hungarian culture figures.

"Hungary takes a special place in my work. I have successfully collaborated with Hungarian musicians, including the young talents and the representatives of the older generation. I would like to mention such outstanding musicians as cellist István Várdai, violinist Kristóf Baráti, cellist Dora Kokas as well as pianist Tamás Érdi, who is also my friend. I am very proud that I had a chance to perform with him in Budapest at the opening of the international festival a year ago. We also shared the same stage at the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall, where we performed at the charity concert held by the Hungarian Embassy in Baku. Tamás took part in this concert as a soloist. The concert aroused great interest among the audience," Guliyev told Azernews.

Unfortunately, the conductor could not take part in Tamás Érdi's music festival  for the second time amid the coronavirus pandemic. Every year, the festival brings together the brightest representatives of the music industry from all over the world. The festival has been postponed until the next year.

Speaking about Hungary, Guliyev noted his performance with the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra. It was one of the first Hungarian orchestras to perform under the direction of Ayyub Guliyev.

In October, the chief conductor of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater was awarded with the Golden Cross of Hungarian Order of Merit for special services in the field of culture and contribution to Baku-Budapest ties. As conductor notes, the selection process is divided into several stages. A special commission is in charge of the award.

Firstly, the commission, run by the Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, considered the candidates. Furthermore, Hungarian President János Áder signed the relevant decree on October 22 on the eve of Hungary's Independence Day.

"I believe that this order is a sign of friendship between our countries. Hungary has always supported Azerbaijan. The two countries are united by strong political and cultural ties. A number of major projects are being implemented by Azerbaijan in partnership with Hungary. I am sure that this award is the sign of recognition of Azerbaijani culture and national musicians, especially the young ones. I share this joy with the State Opera and Ballet Theater as well as Baku Music Academy, where I have been teaching for ten years. I also want to mention my teachers, who have played a great role in my life as well as my family, especially my daughter, who dreams of visiting Hungary. This is our common achievement, which shows the high appreciation of the Azerbaijani music culture," Guliyev said.

One Thousand and One Nights

In August, Fikrat Amirov's ballet "One Thousand and One Nights" premiered as part of the 5th Mariinsky International Far East Festival. The ballet was conducted by musical director of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, Honored Artist Ayyub Guliyev.

"It was a unique experience as the premier of the "Arabian Nights" took place in the time of pandemic when all theaters closed their doors. The 5th Mariinsky International Far East Festival was held under the direction of the outstanding conductor, director and art director of the theater Valery Gergiev. We are all very grateful to him for such a wonderful chance to return back to the work. I am very proud that the festival opened with the ballet of the great Azerbaijani composer Fikrat Amirov. The ballet's new version was presented by chief choreographer of the Primorsky stage of the Mariinsky Theater Eldar Aliyev. He staged this ballet in different countries, including Bulgaria and the USA," said Guliyev

"This time Eldar Aliyev decided to show "Arabian Nights" at the Primorsky stage. Original choreography, colorful costumes and new ideas-all this made this ballet spectacular! The production designer was Pyotr Okunev from St. Petersburg. Moreover, a major work was done by both choreographers and artists. Two sopranos, three ballet troupes, including two local and the third one consisted soloists from St. Petersburg. We delighted the audiences with three fascinating ballet shows. All of them received full attendance. Of course, all safety measures were observed as well. The ballet "One Thousand and One Nights" was a tremendous success. Many theater lovers named it the music event of the year," he added. 

"It was incredibly pleasant for me to hear kind words on behalf of Valery Gergiev, who wanted to stage this ballet in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Taking into account the interest of ballet lovers, it was decided to hold more ballet shows in September. I am very pleased that the ballet continues to be staged every month in Vladivostok," he added. 

The national conductor expressed his gratitude to Valery Gergiev and Eldar Aliyev. He stressed the high level of performance. The rehearsals lasted 10-12 hours, but no one felt tired. Everyone enjoyed such a wonderful atmosphere of unity. Moreover, Azerbaijan's traditional music instruments- tar and naghara were presented to the theater on behalf of the national musicians. The long-necked music instrument featured in the score of Fikrat Amirov. The eminent composer started his musical journey as a tar performer.

"This music instrument brilliantly reflects Azerbaijani tunes, national culture, and the spirit of our people. The idea to add tar performance came from Eldar Aliyev. Ramin Azimov, the soloist of the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theater, performed on tar during the premiere. After that, we decided to present tar as a gift to the theater. We have taught some folk performers how to play on tar. So, the tar will always sound in the Mariinsky Theater during the ballet. The theater also received a naghara. There are many complex melodies in the ballet that should be performed to get that perfect sound. To make it possible, Eldar Aliyev asked us to bring naghara as well. The music instrument was presented to the theater by the representative of Azerbaijani Diaspora in Vladivostok,” the conductor said.

Partnership with music agencies

In summer, Ayyub Guliyev signed a contract with the European music agencies.

"I have signed contracts with music agencies of Serbia, Slovakia and Germany. Several projects have been already implemented as part of this cooperation.  A series of concerts were successfully held in Serbia and Slovakia. More concerts are scheduled for next year. I would like to note that I have never had a right for exclusive cooperation until the contract with the Dutch company TACT. It is the global leader in personal artist management of established international artists. The agency will promote my work in the international area. The contract with TACT was signed in November. I am sure that the partnership with such a prestigious music agency is a new stage in my career," he said.

Azerbaijani Opera and Ballet Theater

"The main goal of the State Opera and Ballet Theater is to preserve Azerbaijan's opera traditions. I would like to say that it is the only opera house in the country and one of the leading musical institutions in the whole region. Our work is highly appreciated which, in turn, inspires to reach new achievements. Now we are cooperating with various theaters around the world. The Azerbaijan Opera and Ballet Theater is a member of the Opera Europe organization, which provides additional opportunities for further partnership. The theater also represents the country at major events and conferences like Beijing Art Forum, initiated by the China National Center for the Performing Arts. The forum was held in September with the participation of the world's leading operas. I informed the conference participants about Azerbaijan's rich opera traditions and its achievements. I believe that it is necessary to expand our ties with other opera houses. The partnership with the Asian theaters is of particular importance as the Asian music industry is expected to have a huge impact on the opera art in near future," said Guliyev.

The Opera House has also become a member of the 4th Silk Road International League of Theaters, which unites 124 theaters from 42 countries. Initiated in 2016 in China, the league brings together not only theaters and musical groups of the Silk Road, but also countries like Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, etc.The Azerbaijani Embassy in China played an important role in this partnership. The State Opera Theater intends to preserve the country's rich theater traditions. For the last 20-30 years, the theater has been actively promoting and training young talents.

What makes a good conductor?

"As for me, a good conductor should always focus on personal growth and professional development.  It would be also helpful if the conductor could play any music instrument. It is believed that violinists and pianists can be good conductors. In addition, the conductor should have good communication skills and treat his counterparts with respect.  The good conductor can unite musicians that are highly attuned and sensitive to each other." said Guliyev.

Future plans

Speaking about future plans, the conductor noted the performance at the music festival in Vancouver, Canada. He expressed his hope to perform at the festival together with his father, Professor Ramiz Guliyev next year. The summer music festival in Budapest, the Munich music festival and the theater's performance at the festival in Italy are also among future projects.

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Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lamiva993

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