Young musician speeds ahead

Clarinet soloist Dionysios Grammenos came into the public spotlight for the first time as the boy wonder who earned first prize in the Eurovision Young Musicians Contest in 2008, a distinction bestowed for the first time in the competition’s history on the player of a wind instrument. Now there’s more good news: Grammenos was in Paris recently for a solo rehearsal in front of a Louvre Museum committee. His excellent performance earned him a spot in the Auditorium du Louvre’s program of events. Kathimerini recently caught up with the young artist in a phone interview from Paris, a few days before Grammenos was scheduled to give a performance at the Parnassos concert hall, the venue of the Parnassos Literary Society, in Athens. «For me, music is a passion; it’s love,» he said. «My entire life evolves around music, it’s a never-ending exploration. This is the magic of music, a continuous search for the sound’s feeling and a deeper knowledge of music. I practice the clarinet on a daily basis; I study music scores, symphonies and other works for orchestra. I record some of my ideas; I listen to a lot of music and I learn a lot from it. It’s communication, a vehicle for transporting ideas and emotions and this is something I feel both as an interpreter and a member of the audience.» Grammenos’s favorite composer is the great Gustav Mahler. «His symphonies are the most intense music I have ever heard,» he said. «Parts of these symphonies keep playing in my head, occupying my thoughts for days in terms of interpretation as well as the motives behind their composition in the first place. I also listen to Brahms, Chopin, Bruckner, as well as Puccini and Wagner. I also enjoy jazz a lot. I admire improvisation and anything that demostrates free spirit.» Though he rose to fame at the young age of 18, Grammenos sounds grounded. «It’s true that I went through a major change in my life, but my aim is to dedicate myself to music and develop my craft as much as possible,» he said. Residing abroad in order to further his studies, Grammenos is currently enrolled at the Liszt School of Music in Weimar, studying under noted clarinetist Professor Martin Spangenberg while also taking courses in conducting. In this light, comparisons with what it takes to be a classical music artist in Greece are quite telling. «It saddens me to see that classical music gets treated differently in terms of organization, responsibility, quality and demands. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed a number of appearances in Greece and have received plenty of love and warmth from the public. Looking back, I remember a few days before winning the Eurovision Young Musicians Contest in Austria, I was deemed unworthy of taking part in a concert featuring young musicians organized by a Greek orchestra. A few days later, I started receiving invitations from leading international orchestras and festivals. That goes to show that things abroad are based on merit. This is my answer to how hard it is to be classical music artist in Greece.» What about the young artist’s plans for the future? «I’m planning my first tour of chamber music concerts and solo appearances in Japan. At the beginning of the year, in one of my most important collaborations to date, I will be working with the Berlin Philharmonia Quartet, an ensemble comprising the Berlin Philharmonic’s leading string instruments. I will also be a guest at a leading international classical music festival, the Rheingau Musik Festival in Germany. Finally, I’m preparing for an appearance at the Auditorium de Louvre in Paris. The concert will mark the premiere of Theodore Antoniou’s ‘Celebration VI,’ a work he composed for solo clarinet and has since dedicated to me.»

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