Massimo Zanetti puts down Gyeonggi-Phil’s baton, “The past four years have been like magic”

Feature "During the rehearsals Massimo Zanetti (60), chief conductor of the Gyeonggi Phil, stands on the podium above the stage, makes eye contact with the members and moves the baton non-stop." Kim SolYonhap News

Dozens of members create a magnificent harmony in line with his hand gestures that cut through the air, sometimes quickly and sometimes softly.

With these performances held at the Gyeonggi Arts Center Grand Theater and Seoul Lotte Concert Hall on the 23rd and 25th, Zanetti’s four-year term at Gyeonggi Phil will end.

In an interview right after the rehearsal, Zanetti said, “The time I spent with the members of Gyeonggi-phil was a process of creating ‘our own new way of playing’.”

He said, “As the Music Director of the Gyeonggi-phil, I gave everything at every performance. In particular, as I focused on transparently sharing my ideas with the players, a magical thing happened that allowed us to understand each other more deeply and play.” said.

Zanetti, a world-class conductor from Italy, has built a reputation for conducting operas in top European houses, including Dresden Staatskapelle and Berlin Staatskapelle.

Since he was appointed as Gyeonggi Phil’s first foreign permanent conductor in September 2018, he has extended his tenure and led Gyeonggi Phil until this year.

Zanetti recalled the performances of Beethoven and Schumann’s works with the Gyeonggi-phil as particularly memorable.

He said, “I think Gyeonggi-phil performed very well in both Beethoven’s Quartet and Schumann’s works, both requiring a high level of technique.” 

Hana Jeong, the concertmaster, who was with him on the day, also emphasized, “Zanetti has a deep knowledge of opera, so it was a great inspiration for the players.

However, Zanetti expressed regret for not being able to show more works to the audience due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) that lasted for more than two years. He said, “There were many work that i would have wanted to bring to the Gyeonggi Phil audience, such as Mahler’s symphonies and works by French composers, but I am very sorry that I did not get a chance at doing so. We want to do it together,” he said.

‘Requiem’, his last concert with the GPhil, was originally scheduled to be performed in March 2020, but was postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This piece is the largest of the religious music from the 19th century Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.

It was completed by Verdi to commemorate the deaths of Rossini and Manzoni, masters of Romanticism.

Zanetti said, “I had no intention of ending my tenure with a sad piece, but I think it is a work that is also in contact with the recent crisis around the world, such as the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the ongoing war in Europe, climate change and droughts”.

He said that after the last performance, he will take a break for a while to prepare for the next move.

Not only could he not rest properly due to rehearsals and performances for a long time, but he also needs time to recover from the sadness of having to leave his beloved musicians.

At the end of the interview, he repeatedly thanked the Korean audience.

“I was able to feel the love that the audience gave me throughout the entire period with the Gyeonggi Phil. I will remember the time I spent here forever. Please continue to pay attention to the Gyeonggi Phil in the future.”