Conductor Massimo Zanetti, farewell performance ‘Verdi Requiem’…” It’s been a magical 4 years.”

Feature "Music director Massimo Zanetti, who has held the baton of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 4 years, bids farewell to the orchestra with Verdi “Requiem". Zanetti, an Italian conductor, is the first foreign permanent conductor to be welcomed by the Gyeonggi Philharmonic since its inception in 1997. In 2018, he took over the baton from his predecessor, and is credited with taking the orchestra to the next level." Kyunghyang Shinmun-

Speaking to reporters at a restaurant in Seoul’s Jung-gu on 18 October, Zanetti said, “The past four years of working with the Gyeonggi Philharmonic have been magical times,” and “I would also like to thank the audience for supporting the Gyeonggi Philharmonic.”

Originally from Milan, Italy, Zanetti has made a name for himself in the world music scene as a Opera conductor. He has built a reputation performing with world-class Orchestras at La Scala Theatre in Milan, the Staatsoper in Berlin, the Zurich Opera, the Grand Theatre de Liceu in Barcelona among others. When he took office in 2018, he presented a blueprint for actively pursuing a diverse symphonic repertoire as well as to present orchestral performances of opera pieces.

He described the achievements of the past 4 years as “achieving great flexibility in the playing of the orchestra.” “Before I came as music director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic, I had heard them play Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, and it was an orchestra that already had great skills, and I thought the technique in particular was very good” he said, “and it was a very anticipated collaboration because I knew that I had already performed 2 times with a picky conductors such as Riccardo Muti.”

“The most important thing for me to do with the Gyeonggi Philharmonic is to create our own way of playing” he said, adding, “The most important thing in an orchestra is the chemistry between the conductor and the orchestra, and I think we have created our own dictionary, building it at each performance.” “If the Gyeonggi Philharmonic had previously pursued a big, grandiose way of playing, I think they’ve worked with me to discover the details and transparency of music” he said.

In particular, he showed special affection for the members of the Orchestra. Zanetti said, “Over the past 4 years, I have felt a strong bond with the Orchestra, not only artistically but also humanly. It already feels like family,” he said, “and I’m so sad to be leaving.”

He regrets not being able to spend “a full 4 years” together due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “In Europe, we see at least five years for a conductor to build an orchestra in his own style,” Zanetti said, adding, “The Gyeonggi Philharmonic started its term in September 2018 and has had 14 to 16 performances together by the end of 2019, and since then (due to COVID-19) there are fewer than 10 performances combined. It’s a pity because 4 years is already a short time to build something together, and it wasn’t even a full 4 years.” “It’s a pity that we didn’t present enough of Mahler’ works, which were very interesting for the audience,” he said.

His final performance with the Gyeonggi Philharmonic was Verdi’s Requiem, which is called the Opera of the Dead. One of Verdi’s greatest masterpieces, it is religious music, but with a grandiose scale and dramatic composition, with a dense operatic character. It is a 90-minute concert with four soloists, a mixed 4-part choir and a large orchestra. It was originally scheduled to be performed in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the impossibility for a large choir large orchestra to assemble, eventually making it the performance of his term when it was rescheduled for 2022.

“At this point in time, which is arguably one of the worst time in the world, with pandemics and wars, recessions, climate change, and so on, we are putting up a Verdi Requiem,” Zanetti said, “and it’s also a timely piece of work in the last few years when COVID-19 has caused so many victims around the world.”

“Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ is music that makes us think about death,” he says, “and if the requiem of Mozart and other composers had an aspect of accepting the fate of death, Verdi’s Requiem questions the living. To abbreviate his requiem to a single word, you’d say: Why?” “It’s his requiem to ask the question of why we should die and why everything should end. It’s a song with a very human nature.”

The show will feature Korean and Italian soloists such as soprano Son Hyun-kyung, mezzo-soprano Cristina Melis, tenor Kim Woo-kyung, and bass Yeon Kwang-chul. More than 200 performers, including the orchestra and choir, will perform a magnificent farewell concert. Performances will take place over two days at the Gyeonggi Arts Center and the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul on the 23rd and 25th