Thoughts of a music master

Since conductor and music educator Olivier Ochanine joined the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010 as its principal conductor and music director, he has been committed to bringing the performances of the symphony group to a wider range of audience.

In the past years, apart from its regular performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the PPO has staged concerts in “unconventional venues” hardly visited by other symphony groups.

PPO is dedicated to popularizing classical music and giving young audience the opportunity to discover the beauty of this genre.

Recently, Ochanine shared with the press the dynamic lineup the PPO has prepared for its 30th Concert Season, at the same time answering questions on the status of classical music in the country.

A veteran journalist jested that classical music is no longer a dying genre but a “vanishing breed,” someone retorted that we have to blame the popular notion that classical music is only for the elite class, to which Ochanine retorted, “Audience of classical music in the Philippines is growing slowly and surely and I’m happy we have younger audience as well. Believe me, it’s not only in the Philippines, even the New York Orchestra is confronted by decreasing audience and marketing issues.”

The French-American conductor is also positive that classical music can thrive in the country with the support of institutions that genuinely care about reviving the interest of people in the relatively unpopular genre. He supports the idea of exposing young children to classical music at an early age. While Ochanine was promoting the shows of PPO he also sent a shout out to those who continuously ask for complimentary tickets from him.

“It aggravates me,” he said unapologetically and elaborated that complimentary tickets will not help musician, with great talents, to get paid, “If you can afford [to buy tickets] I strongly suggest that you pay for them. I would rather give a complimentary ticket to a taxi driver or to a Ministop employee who can benefit more from it.”

He said that some critics say that he programs hard music for the PPO and he’s been featuring unpopular artists in the ensemble’s repertoire. Little did many people know, his main objective is to give audience a wide range of musical experience.

“Actually we feature popular artists whose works are not popular in the Philippines,” he stressed.

Ochanine will lead the country’s premier musical ensemble to open its new concert season with an orchestral firework performing the Shastakovich’s Suite for Variety Orchestra,Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances on Sept. 21 at the Philamlife Auditorium.

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