by journalist Eva Mara
"When talent meets art"
Born in Athens in 1969, Dimitris Sgouros will be proclaimed a "child prodigy", will receive international exposure and passionate reviews - prizes and international awards, will be appreciated as the most important Greek musician - ambassador for our country abroad and unambiguously - one of the most important musicians worldwide. Will be honored by his presence in the biggest concert halls worldwide, will work with the most famous orchestras and conductors in the world, will leave his mark through an elusive and unsurpassed artistic journey in the world of classical music, will compel them to bow to the unique talent of his "limitless" art. Yet he remains a modest and humble servant of art indicating to all of us "small" and "insignificant" the greatness and simplicity of "big" people. An artist with worldwide reach and prestige, who remains solidly grounded and whose reputation never got the better of him! Dimitris Sgouros, an incomparably great pianist, a great Greek, a wonderful person!
"Music for me is everything! Nor can I imagine my life away from the interpretation of music and the piano or when I hear operas."
What, really, was the trigger for your involvement with the art of music, Mr. Sgouros?
I believe that the music was inside me at birth! As a baby I was fascinated with the different sounds. They loved to soothe me with lullabies and contemporary songs of that era. Soon, they began to sing sometimes holding a microphone in my hands and shaking my body rhythmically. There are, indeed, recorded songs at the age of 16 months as those of Hadjidakis, Kyra Giorgaina (which featured in a Greek documentary) and indeed Alexandraki and Dandoulaki . However, my mother played on the piano especially such songs. The final decision, of course, to learn piano, I took when I was finishing Kindergarten and participated in a "matinee" piano concert for the first time in my conservatory.
What does music do for you?
For me, music is everything. I cannot imagine my life away from the interpretation of music, piano or when I hear operas.
Where does this journey of your art to Ithaca begin and end?
Perhaps only with death, because as the years pass, we learn as artists and mature.
Can you believe, the art of music in general has been an antidote to the negative mood of the average Greek in today's prevailing atmosphere as shaped by the current economic crisis?
I believe that music is a kind of art that fits all professions and can be heard in any situation ... let me remind you that even those that rear cows and horses use classical music to calm them and to nourish their development (this practice is common especially abroad), because it tames even the wild animals!
How do you, personally, find the level of musical aesthetics of the average European in comparison to that of the average Greek?
Although there have been "eroded" conditions, certainly the quality of their music education cannot - under any circumstances - be compared with that of the average Greek ...
What do you consider was the top (the most important) moment of the successful 35+ years of your distinguished career?
Any artist - like me - who have "walked" along with music for 36 years and in 5 continents, how could I distinguish only one top moment? Maybe my meeting with the great personalities of art, like Rubinstein, Richter, von Karajan, Rostropovich and many, many others with whom I was fortunate to work performing legendary masterpieces. Moreover, the first 4 records documenting my work - at age 13 and 14 years, such as that with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin in the 3rd Concerto of Rachmaninoff. However, I must also count among the top moments of my career my debut (at the age of 12) in Carnegie Hall in New York, touring the Far East, Australia and others.
Which artistic influences contributed to further your career as an international pianist?
Certainly the advice and guidance of Rubinstein, of Rostropovich, as well as my successes in successive performances gave me courage and strength to go on, but to seek to improve each time my interpretations and virtuosic level as the works demanded.
Provide us if you like, an overview of your artistic presence in Greece and abroad in recent years.
Logically one should create a big list like a phone book together, of course, with more detailed information to accompany countries, cities, projects, venues, conductors, orchestras. Nonetheless, I will try to mention some performances of recent years with special meaning to me, each for a different reason. So my orchestral performance at the Kremlin in Moscow for the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, the big gala concert in the packed Herodium, where revenues were given to complete the Hospital "Children's Hope." Also my first performances in Croatia, Ukraine attracting high quality audiences - mainly in Kiev, birthplace of Prokoviev, where the critics honored me by comparing my performance of his 3rd Concerto with the composer's own. Moreover, the closing and opening of some very important festivals such as Menton in southern France, dedicated to the memory of my mentor Rostropovich and Newport of Boston in 2011. Moreover, the "gala performance" which was given at Carnegie Hall in New York, in order to raise money for those affected by the tsunami, where they have chosen me as the main artist of the evening, and leading tours in France, Germany, Qatar and the Islamic world, Hungary and others. Moreover, a great pleasure and honor for me was the filming and the presentation of a new TV documentary concerning the 35 years of my career, which aired in February 2013, and - at the request of viewers - one month later again. Similarly it was an honor for me to participate in the piano recital organized by the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki on 1 December 2012 and I thank them so much for this!
Do you believe that there is a close relationship between poetic creation and the art of music?
Certainly, poetry and music are sister arts and it is known on many occasions, both in classical as well as contemporary art for them to embrace each other!
Should we appreciate that music and art in general can make the world better?
If and when the world adopts a better approach, then art can certainly help us become even better: through mental relief, upliftment, beautiful dreams, patience and hope!
How do you assess the level of cultural creation in the musical life of our country in general?
Unfortunately, quite low! Although numerous and genial on the surface, but not always so great in terms of quality, artistic discrimination and suitability
Tell us, in summary your program?
If you ask me about my future professional outings, I would prefer to talk about when they will take place. Programs are programs, but life is unpredictable!
It is said that loneliness shrouds the peak of glory for an acclaimed artist of international renown?
How much indeed! But it depends on the time, the mental moods and social situations, but also many others ...
In conclusion, Mr Sgouros, tell us what wish you would have - and with what admonition - in a public greeting to the Greek public?
I will wish for a better tomorrow with positive thoughts, hope, vision and planning!
Thank you very much for the friendly and candid conversation, Mr Sgouros, but mostly as a Greek to express my appreciation for your accomplishment unsurpassed in Greek art and culture! Also wish you a long artistic journey to Ithaca, full of interesting collaborations and special performances, as you're accustomed to now!
And I have to take my turn in thanking Eve (if you'll permit the familiarity - because of our years of friendship) for our interview and to wish you every success, and personally to all Greeks "Good Winter" cheer!
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