Mirko Boch, Director of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra: We hug you with music

Music is the life we live that flows through us and makes us better people, and we are lucky to have the blessing to be chosen to give this to others through music

The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra is celebrating 150 years of its existence. Marko Boch, Director of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, talks for Diplomacy&Commerce about plans, the anniversary, the people who left a mark with their work, and the challenges and new circumstances we are all living in.

1. The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra is marking 150 years of its work with a new slogan – ‘We hug you with Music’. It all started according to the plan, but then the COVID 19 pandemic happened. How is the Zagreb Philharmonic “fighting” with all the new measures and rules, and how do you function?

From the moment when the coronavirus appeared in the Republic of Croatia and the horrific earthquake in Zagreb, the philharmonic didn’t stop the work of their extraordinary artists.

Even though apartments and houses of many of our members were damaged in the earthquake, we didn’t lose heart but instead, members of the philharmonic showed from their homes how much we love our city, and that the strong spirit of artists will never be discouraged, so we performed a video clip titled “Moj Zagreb tak imam te rad” (My Zagreb, I love you so).

2. Celebration of the great jubilee began according to plan. Which of the announced events have been carried out?

Since mid-March, when we stopped, until the end of May, when we started holding concerts again, the open space (the Zagreb Zoo) was our stage for our fellow citizens. That’s how we held a series of concerts and thus closed the season 2019/20.

We are starting our jubilee season at the beginning of September, and we sincerely hope that we will start at full steam.

3. It is the middle of the year, how did you reduce your program and your activities? What can we expect in the months to come?

We haven’t reduced the program for the new season because we don’t have any reservations when music is the life we breathe. Unfortunately, the hall that is our home, the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall was damaged in the earthquake and we hope that it will be operational so that we can perform our concerts.

4. Many were part of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, they left their mark and their seal. Is there anyone you would particularly single out?

Many artists gave a great contribution over the 150 years of this wonderful orchestra, from: F. Zaun, Matacic, Horvat, Basic, Despalj to V.Sutej who died too soon, and over the past decade or so, Mo Dmitrij Kitajenko left a great artistic and human mark. And of course, generations of members of the philharmonic who built this particularly sensitive orchestra, as Mo Kitajenko says.

5. What is the significance of art and culture in such difficult and uncertain times? Which way leads to the audience, which seems eager to hear some good and quality content?

Art is more important now than ever before and this is shown day by day, just as a man cannot do without air and feelings, music as art is what gives us the warmth of the soul and makes a person better and cleaner in every way, and the purpose of the Zagreb Philharmonic is the creation of a quality and better society. The way to the audience is always through sincere emotions of the musician, who pays special attention to each listener.

6. You have been preparing for this season for a long time, because it is special and specific in many ways. Due to the earthquake in Zagreb, the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra was temporarily relocated from the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall. When do you expect to return to your premises and will this happen in any special way?

We believe that we will enter our hall in the fall, by the end of September, and that the first concert will surely be especially emotional for all of us, regardless of when we perform the first concert in the hall.

7. The beginning of the season is planned for September 25. If something changes due to the pandemic, do you have a Plan B?

The year is extremely difficult for everyone, especially for the artists, but we have shown that we always find an answer to the misfortunes that befell the Zagreb Philharmonic this year, so rest assured we will not give up because music is our life and I am convinced we will find a solution.