What inspired him when composing a piece dedicated to the Orchestra? What does he think about Polish composers? What does he wish the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra for its 70th anniversary? Quincy Jones answers our questions and talks about the "musical greeting card" he sends to Szczecin.
For the Orchestra, these seventy years have been a time of continuous development, cooperation with excellent conductors and soloists, creating unusual and often surprising projects. On the occasion of this birthday, the Orchestra will showcase their performative skills at their best in a concert on October 19th, 2018. The program includes the symphonic poem "Eternal Songs" Op. 10 by Mieczysław Karłowicz and "The Rite of Spring" by Igor Stravinsky. The icing on the cake will be the world premiere of a song written especially for the 70th anniversary of the Orchestra by Quincy Jones!
The 27-time Grammy Award winner has this time composed a piece dedicated to the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. This composition by one of the best specialists will bring together the two worlds of classical and avant-garde music.
Quincy Jones found a moment to answer some questions about the work on the piece he dedicated to the Orchestra and where he drew inspiration from.
Szczecin Philharmonic: How did your education, and especially the education you had received from Nadia Boulanger, influence your creativity and your career?
Quincy Jones: It's all about the soul and the science. You need to work on both, and I'm grateful for my teachers such as Nadia Boulanger who provided me with a foundation that has carried me through my entire career. She taught me about counterpoint, retrograde inversion, you name it. She was also the one who told me that us jazz guys "shack up with music first, and court it and marry it later," so she made sure I had my left brain right from the start. Being able to know the math and science behind music has served me well, because in order to break the rules, you've got to understand them. And I truly believe that if I didn't understand how music works, I wouldn't have been able to create much of what I've created over the last six decades.
SP: How does your artistic idea and vision, as a composer, translate into the final effect of the compositions, that is, a live performance? Are performers playing your pieces always able to present your vision of a given composition?
QJ: I always create what gives me goosebumps, because I know if I have that type of reaction, I know at least one other person on the planet will feel the same! You can't control who is going to like your work, but you can control what you put out there, and your vision for how you want it to sound. When you create, you have to keep in mind the fact that you are not writing for one specific format; you have to know that different performers will interpret your pieces differently, so your job as the composer is simply to create a good song.
SP: What was your inspiration when writing the piece for the Philharmonic in Szczecin?
QJ: Penderecki! Even though we are the same age, he has been one of my biggest inspirations of all-time and it absolutely makes my soul smile to have been able to work on this piece. It was truly a full circle moment because I've looked up to him for many, many years, and having this opportunity was all of the inspiration I needed.
SP: Have any Polish composers, especially your contemporary Krzysztof Penderecki, had any influence on your work or have they been an inspiration when writing some compositions?
QJ: Absolutely. Penderecki, Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Górecki, you name it. Poland does not play! It's all about melody and rhythm: two things they've got under control!
SP: What advice would you give to young musicians at the beginning of their professional careers? What should they remember? What should young musicians / composers know when entering the world of music?
QJ: Musical principles exist for a reason, and you've got to really do the research to know why. It's not enough to take someone's word for it because you have to dig deep and figure it out for yourself. Many times musicians get stuck in one spot because they haven’t done their homework with the left brain. Music is emotion and science. You don’t really need to practice emotion because that comes naturally, but the left side is all about the practice. I say this all of the time, but only because it's important. Technique is a science, and if you can’t get your finger between three and four and seven and eight on a piano, you can’t play! You can only get so far without technique and knowledge of the craft, so if you put in the work to back it up, you will be more than ok. It's also important to have faith in your abilities and if you can see it you can be it. Even more importantly, always have humility with your creativity and grace with your success.
SP: What do you wish the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra on the occasion of its 70th anniversary?
QJ: All the best! Truly. The last two things to leave this planet will be water and music, and the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra sure knows how to make music! Congratulations on such a momentous occasion, and I can't wait to celebrate 70 more years with you!