Author: Elia ANVARLI
UNESCO Artist for Peace, the Chairman of the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan, People's Artist, Professor Firangiz Alizadeh is one of the prominent representatives of modern Azerbaijani music. Apart from being a brilliant composer, she is also a virtuoso pianist, demanding conductor, experienced teacher, and public figure.
Last year she celebrated her jubilee. Alizadeh had numerous concerts in many countries of the world including the U.S., Italy, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and so on. This was a unique case when the works of Azerbaijani composer was performed almost on all continents of the world. The leading musicians include them in their repertoire. By the way, the initiators of these concerts were the musicians and organizers of international festivals. Concert programs devoted to Alizadeh, meetings with her fans were held in different countries of the world.
The state of Azerbaijan highly appreciates the active social and musical life of Firangiz-khanim. She was awarded the Order of Glory and a number of other awards including Uğur and Zirvə.
Firangiz Alizadeh continues the outstanding promotion of our national culture far beyond the borders of Azerbaijan. Her compositions created and performed in recent years by foreign musical bands include Xəzər for the quintet (New York, USA, 2006), Atəş for flute, clarinet, violin and percussion instruments (Seattle, USA, 2006), ballet Optical Identity (Singapore, 2007), mystery Al Kamandcaty (Rome, Italy, 2007), Dastan for violin (Augsburg, Germany, 2007) and so on.
Speaking about the works of Alizadeh, it is worth recalling one more success of the composer. In 2014, the album Deutsche Grammofon by the famous American violinist and megastar Hilary Hahn, which included the works of Firangiz Alizadeh, was awarded the Grammy Award in the nomination Best chamber music of the year. Alizadeh is the first Azerbaijani composer awarded this prestigious prize. Certainly, this must be regarded as an ultimate success of Azerbaijani music.
In her interview with Region Plus, Firangiz-khanim told about the activities of the Composers' Union, upcoming plans of the organization and her inspirations.
Can you tell us about the activities of the Union of Composers since 2007?
For the past decade, we have accomplished tremendous work, since we had not held congresses for seventeen years until 2007. There were many reasons for this but the fact remains. We had to restore much in the Union of Composers such as, for instance, the eleven departments of the Union, as well as regional offices in Nakhchivan, Lankaran, and Sheki. Also, considering the realities of the 21st century, we had to redo many things from scratch. Firstly, our Union has implemented a number of long-term projects including the International Festival The World of Mugham (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015), The Mugham Encyclopedia, and Üzeyir dünyası (The World of Uzeyir Hajibayov) initiated and supported by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and personally by the First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva. In addition, we have restored the historical building of the Union of Composers on Khagani Street in Baku, which has long served as a workplace for our luminaries including Gara Garayev, Fikret Amirov, Tofig Guliyev, Jovdat Hajiyev, Vasif Adigozalov. Therefore, it was a principal issue, and thanks to the attention and support of President Aliyev, we have managed to accomplish this task. For the first time in the eight-five-year history of the Union, we can held concerts (jubilee celebrations of composers and music experts), book presentations, meetings with interesting people (A Dialogue with a Contemporary Artist), as well as a very important project Works of Azerbaijani Composers Performed by Young Musicians at the new concert hall named after Uzeyir Hajibayov.
By the way, the Union of Composers has its own International Music Festival, the annual summer open-air festival in Sheki, The Silk Road, which has been held eight times and was a great success.
Recently, we have held the eighth Convention of Young Composers, where the works of sixteen composers were performed. At the end of the concerts, we held round-table discussions where the young music experts and composers ardently expressed their views on all aspects of the event.
It is almost impossible to tell you about all the works of the Union covering the past decade. I will just mention some of them including the 9th Congress, the 75th and 80th anniversaries of our organization, numerous festivals held in and far beyond Baku and dedicated to Azerbaijani composers such as Uzeyir Hajibayov, Gara Garayev, Fikret Amirov, Tofig Guliyev , Jovdat Hajiyev, Vasif Adigozalov, Jahangir Jahangirov, Emin Sabitoglu and many others. It is unlikely that you can find a country on the world map that would host seven international music festivals. Azerbaijan is a kind of record holder of the 21st century and has become the homeland of the top-notch internationally recognized music fora.
For the first time in the history of the Union, Mr. President established a monthly scholarship for members of our Union, which plays an instrumental role in the implementation of many interesting ideas and projects.
Currently, we are preparing for the 100th anniversary celebrations of one of the luminary composers of Azerbaijan, Maestro Gara Garayev, which will be held this year with great creative enthusiasm.
All these achievements and the implementation of largescale cultural events have become possible thanks to the policy of our state - stable situation and sustainable development that prevails in Azerbaijan. Unprecedented state support to culture and creative figures, as well as the attention to the propaganda of Azerbaijani heritage abroad inspires us to work more actively for the prosperity of our culture and the country as a whole.
What works are you currently working on?
I constantly work on new works but I do not like disclosing information about the unrealized projects. As always, I have many plans and proposals. I usually prioritize my agenda such that the very important and urgent works are implemented first while the less important can wait. Everything can be done in a timely manner but it is important that one clearly prioritizes the scope of works.
Do you have any planned trips? If yes, where?
I have close relations with the musical life of Germany and therefore I often visit Berlin. Also, I am planning to visit Zurich, Switzerland due to our future plans.
How do you work on your new works? Do you follow a special program or is it something spontaneous?
You can never guess the first impulse for your new work. It can be a motive heard in silence or your admiration for a certain performer, or a book that you have recently read, or a fact from the biography of a composer. It all happens differently. This is the intrigue of each work and it always happens unexpectedly, sort of a gift of destiny. Otherwise, everything would be ordinary and uninteresting.
Do you continue cooperating with famous foreign performers?
Fortunately, I do. Moreover, I get to know more new soloists and bands. For example, my cooperation with the Chronos Quartet from San Francisco, CA has been ongoing for more than 25 years.
Recently, a young singer from China, who is a laureate of several international competitions, Yaoki Chan, has wonderfully performed my Mother's aria from the opera Intizar at the festival held in Berlin. I am also glad that my music is performed in different countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, and Finland as part of the ballets. By the way, these facts formed a basis for researches of our music experts. For instances, Assistant Professor Zhala Gulamova has made a presentation on this topic (with the demonstration of some scenes from these ballets) at a scientific conference.
Are there any orders now?
Of course, there are. But I am not going to tell you anything in advance. You will know everything in due time.
Thank you for the interview!