Edvard Tchivzhel is the Greenville Symphony Orchestra‘s music director and conductor. His ties to the Greenville community go back to 1991, after he came to the Peace Center with the USSR State Symphony Orchestra and sought political asylum with his family. He worked with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and China.
Here are his thoughts on what a normal day before the pandemic looked like for him, how COVID-19 has impacted his job and the biggest misconception about being a conductor.
What was a normal day for you before COVID-19?
My normal day would be full of studies of musical scores, the search for new pieces for programming, preparations for rehearsals and concerts, participation in important social events and a fundraising process, [and] meeting with the GSO’s donors and patrons.
On concert weeks, I would have rehearsals in the evenings and finally concerts. In my free time, I would go to the swimming pool or gym, which, unfortunately, I am missing now due to COVID-19.
How has COVID-19 changed your job?
Unfortunately, at this terrible time, we lost our live performances with the audience, as have most orchestras around the globe. It is very frustrating, indeed, but we are still doing our very best to stay in touch with our fans and to deliver the beauty of great music and the sound of the GSO to the Greenville community.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
Some people may think that the conductor’s work is just to stay in the front of the orchestra, wear a nice jacket or tailcoat and wave his hands [and] mark the beats, but that is only a small part of the iceberg. What is hidden is a colossal [amount of] work, which starts weeks or months or even years before the first rehearsal with the orchestra.
First is a meticulous study of the musical score with all of its details. A conductor has to create his own and convincing interpretation of the piece. Though all written notes are the same, each conductor has a different vision of the same musical work, which expresses his individuality. Then, during the rehearsals with the orchestra, the conductor shall be a teacher for musicians, and even a psychologist, because each musician has their own individuality, and to achieve the same desirable result the conductor has to find a different approach to each player. Finally, during the concert, the conductor must be a passionate artist and convincing interpreter to inspire both the orchestra and audience.