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Dishing with Dmitry

by Nancy Oakley

As any musician these days will attest, the pandemic has been nothing if not challenging, with the myriad restrictions that have come on its heels. In spite of them, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra Director, violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky, hasn’t missed a . . . beat. Like so many music programs, his signature “Sitkovetsky & Friends” series, with the help of local sponsor Rice Toyota, has gone virtual. In many ways, it demystifies the perceived exclusivity the fine arts seem to acquire with age.

Posted on the Symphony’s Facebook page, the conductor’s casual interviews with fellow musicians reveal a human side of the profession seldom seen on the concert stage. Traveling the world from Verbier, Switzerland to London to an Alpine funicular, Sitkovetsky sits down with fellow musicians in warm, broad-ranging conversations interspersed with concert footage from past performances. Who knew, for example, that pianist Evgeny Kissin, in addition to being a child prodigy, has a fondness for reciting poetry? Or that Royal Opera House Director Antonio Pappano felt actual stage fright on the eve of his 35th high school reunion? Or that Mischa Maisky was more interested in football (soccer) and chess before he ever picked up a cello? Or that Sitkovetsky himself never finished reading Tolstoy’s overly long War and Peace?

There are jokes and gossip about famous composers revealing for example, Richard Strauss’ penchant for playing cards (to quell the unceasing strains of music coursing through his brain), and of course, poignant, even sublime observations, such as Kissin’s admission that Chopin had always been his favorite composer — something his audiences intuited before he did. Or how Pappano’s lack of formal conservatory training led to a revelation: that seasoned musicians oughtn’t become jaded or lose the “original love” of a piece of music. “That’s what art is about. It’s love. It fills your heart,” he asserts.

So be filled — and inspired — by this most universal of art forms that transcends time and space, and pandemics, too, by tuning into Sitkovetsky & Friends Virtual.

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