Patrick Hahn, 25-year-old young Austrian conductor, will be the permanent guest conductor of the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra for the next two seasons. We talked to Patrick Hahn about his experiences in the world of classical music, what he expects from this role, and his observations on music.
As a young and promising conductor what are your ambitions on music? What do you want to achieve?
Patrick Hahn: I want to inspire people with the music we make, to make them think and to be conscious about their decisions. This might sound abstract, but all music triggers some sort of an emotion, differently in every individual person. I don’t necessarily want to convey certain messages, it is up to each individual listener to take from our musical experience whatever they can and want.
How did your training and experience in music structure your world view and personality?
Patrick Hahn: As a conductor I get to travel a lot and I always get to work with so many different people from different cultures and backgrounds. Therefore, I see a lot of the diversity in our world, and Istanbul has become a very interesting experience. I would describe myself as a very open-minded person and love the fact that in the arts world this is a very common attitude.
What is the role of classical music in today’s world?
Patrick Hahn: Classical music touches people in different ways than “modern” music does. By coming together to experience an orchestra concert, an opera performance, or chamber music ( whether you are in the audience or on the podium) you connect with the people around you and share emotions. The power of making or listening to music together is vast and I believe it helps in shaping one’s character for the better.
How does a century year old musical piece find its meaning on our world? In which way music connects past and future?
Patrick Hahn: Classical music is timeless. Of course, it has developed over the time. Mozart today is performed most likely differently than it was when it was conceived, but the message and the joy that it brings to our modern world is no different. The emotions and experiences one takes from listening to whatever music are quite unique and personal, though, so I don’t believe there is one common meaning for each piece of music – which makes it so interesting.
How do you foresee future in terms of music and the state of world?
Patrick Hahn: Unfortunately, music has become less and less important in public school system, although there are many studies that show the significance of musical education for young people. By making music together, they learn to express their feelings in a non-violent way and build respect for their fellow humans. Fortunately, many orchestras have started to pick up education programs to get young people involved as early as possible. This leaves me with a positive outlook on the future of music in our world, as I’m sure it will never loose significance to so many people.
How do you think last year impacted classical music scene?
Patrick Hahn: This very long period of silence was a dreadful one for many, and also a fruitful one for some. On the one hand, the art world was forced to become more creative and inventive. Everyone had to think outside the box with small projects, chamber music, streamed concerts, newly invented formats. As exciting as this is, it also had a devastating impact: Many small theaters and ensembles had to shut down operations permanently, many freelance-musicians had to change their profession to something completely different because they couldn’t earn any money anymore while being an artist. Now we all hope that we can get back to performing for live audiences as soon as safely possible to limit the damages already done.
What should we expect from your time at BIFO? And what do you expect from BIFO?
Patrick Hahn: Together with outstanding soloists and conductors, I’m very excited to bring a mix of well-known and lesser-known masterpieces to the BIFO and its audience. I am sure it will be a very prosperous relationship where we learn from each other – after all, every musician has an individual soul and we all try to learn from each other all the time.
What are your observations on Turkish classical music scene?
Patrick Hahn: Unfortunately my first visit to Turkey and the BIFO was amidst the Covid-crisis, so I yet have to explore the classical music scene in Turkey more closely. I am filled with joy, though, by the high quality and interest in arts and music. Istanbul especially has such a colorful art scene; I look forward to exploring it as soon as possible.
You’ve worked in various countries for several orchestras. Do you approach music differently regarding which city or culture you’re in?
Patrick Hahn: Orchestras have sometimes become quite universal, orchestra members study all around the world. Of course, traditions are quite different, so I try to respect existing traditions while adding as much of my own personality and vision of the music to it. So, I try not to differentiate between different cities or cultures, music is a universal language.
What kind of experience can orchestras gain from working with different conductors? And how can a conductor enrich his vision participating on such thing?
Patrick Hahn: Different conductors have different interpretations and views on particular pieces of music, so it is very helpful for orchestras to get input from different views. Of course there should be some sort of continuity but there are always experts on different fields. If an orchestra would like to dive into baroque music, why not engage a conductor that has a particular expertise in this kind of repertoire? It also works the other way around, the conductor also learns from the traditions of an orchestra, so ideally we all grow and benefit from each other.
What are your aspirations beyond music?
Patrick Hahn: I am incredibly happy to be able to do the thing I love the most – making music. Beyond that, I am a bit of a family person. Although I travel a lot, I always like to meet friends and family in between travels whenever possible. As long as I get to bring joy to and inspire other people with the music I make, I shall be fulfilled.