Massimo Zanetti (60) takes the final baton as the music director of the Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra (hereafter Gyeonggi Phil). Zanetti will end his tenure with the performance of ‘Verdi Requiem’ at the Gyeonggi Arts Center Grand Theater on the 23rd and the Lotte Concert Hall on the 25th. His successor is undecided.
He met with reporters at a restaurant in Gwanghwamun, Seoul on the 18th and said, “I am grateful to the members who gave me joy every time we performed. I will never forget the love of the audience who responded enthusiastically from the first day of the performance.” expressed regretfully.
Massimo Zanetti, a conductor from Milan, Italy, is the first foreign Music Director that Gyeonggi Phil has appointed after 21 years of founding. He has served as Gyeonggi Phil’s Music Director since September 2018 for a two-year term, and has led Gyeonggi Phil for four years as his contract was extended in 2019.
Since his inauguration, he has been praised for raising the level of Gyeonggi writing by showing a varied repertoire, spanning through various composers such as Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Beethoven, Ravel, and Debussy. His ticket sales have also risen noticeably, and his last concert in Suwon sold out early.
Zanetti, who has experience in conducting Asian Orchestras such as the NHK Symphony and the China Philharmonic, did not know much about the Gyeonggi Phil at first. His interest began with the knowledge that Riccardo Muti, who was known for being picky, came twice to conduct them. “I was convinced that the orchestra had outstanding skills when I watched the live performances of Jaap van Zweden and Gyeonggi Phil in March 2018.”
Zanetti, who has a deep affection for the members who call them “my kids,” recalled the past four years and said, “It was important to create our own playing method. By developing the language and vocabulary of music we use, at each performance we added to said vocabulary”.
He continued, “There is a lot of flexibility in the orchestra. They have previously pursued a grand way of playing, but during the four years with me we have refined the details of music, achieving detailing and a transparent tone. I believe that they will continue to develop and do well in the future.”
‘Requiem’ is the largest piece of Verdi’s religious music. It was composed to commemorate the deaths of two figures he admired, composer Rossini (1792-1868) and writer Manzoni (1785-1873). This piece requires four soloists, a large choir, and a large orchestra, and the total performance time is 90 minutes.
Gyeonggi-pil originally planned to perform it in 2020, but had to postpone it due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Currently, the world is going through crises such as wars, pandemics, economic downturns, and climate change,” said Zanetti.
He continued, “The requiem of composers such as Mozart, Schumann, and Brahms conveys the message that if death is a fate that must be accepted naturally, Verdi fights against such fate. In short, it is ‘Why?’, asking the ultimate question: ‘Why do I have to die?’. It has a very human perspective.”
About 200 performers including soprano Hyun-kyung Son, mezzo-soprano Christina Melis, tenor Woo-kyung Kim, bass Yeo Kwang-chul, orchestra and choir will appear in the performance.