Sunday, February 22, 2009

Interview with Heinrich Christiansen, Transcript, Part 5

Here's the transcription of the fifth and final part of my interview with Heinrich Christiansen! You can also read part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. Don't forget, the King's Chapel Choir, which he directs, is performing an hour-long concert at 5 pm TODAY of the music of Poulenc at King's Chapel, Boston.

Part 5:

A: I’m going to end with a questionnaire. There are going to be twelve questions, and just give – the shortest, most instinctive answers, don’t think about it too hard.
H: Word association.
A: Exactly. What’s your favorite word?
H: My favorite word. Gingerbread.
A: What’s your least favorite word?
H: [laughs] Moist.
A: [laughs] What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
H: Singing.
A: What turns you off creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
H: Whining.
A: What sound or noise do you love?
H: Well, I would say, you know, the human voice.
A: Non-musical.
H: Non-musical?
A: So a speaking human voice? Yes, I always have to put non-musical when I ask this of musicians, because then they start thinking about…
H: We do. I can’t think of any particular loveable noise right now. I guess organic types of sounds. I love the sea, so you could say the roar of the sea.
A: That works. What sound or noise, non-musical, do you hate?
H: So, you know, traffic noise, all of these kind of obnoxious noise-pollution things, like the garbage truck. And we used to live in a place in JP where we had all these trucks backing up. That sort of intrusive traffic noise seems to tell us that we’re living in way too industrial a world.
A: What composer – name a composer that you really love.
H: Poulenc!
A: Name a composer where you really don’t see what all the fuss is about.
H: That seems mean-spirited.
A: Well, not so much that you hate them as that you’re just like, “Eh.”
H: It probably depends on the repertoire again, but there’s –
A: You can choose somebody who’s dead, it’s OK.
H: Yes, certain composers that just seem to go on at great length for no particular reason. Like, I don’t like Liszt’s organ works at all. Lots of people play him, and I just feel like there’s a lot of oration for no particular reason going on.
A: What’s your favorite curse word?
H: I don’t even know. They’re all so delicious. How can you choose a favorite?
A: Favorite for today.
H: The favorite for today. See, I’m bad with questionnaires, I have a hard time being very definite like that. Dagnabbit.
A: Dagnabbit? All right. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
H: See, this is actually a question that I ask myself quite often. [laughs] You know, because it feels like it’s a failure of imagination not to be able to think of anything else that you could do in life. I think I would like to be a writer. But I think I have the problem that a lot of people that see themselves as potential writers do, that they don’t know what they would write about. And so I figure – that’s a little bit like what I feel about composing, is you shouldn’t compose unless you can’t help it, because there’s enough bad music being written. So I think I shouldn’t write because I can stop myself, and so it must mean the compulsion is not strong enough that it’s worthwhile.
A: But there’s a compulsion.
H: There’s a thought that it would be a nifty thing to do.
A: And what profession would you not want to do? Ever?
H: I just saw last week this movie called “The Class.” So I would not ever want to be a schoolteacher, because it just looks so fraught with anxiety. Did you hear of this movie?
A: No, I didn’t.
H: It’s a French movie that won the Palmes, you know, in Cannes, and it’s about this guy, and I just felt so bad for him the whole time. And then you’re sort of also filled with admiration, but you look at it, and you say, “How can people go back to that kind of situation every day?” Because it’s just so – and it reminds you of being a child in a class yourself, and all the little games that go on, and all that stuff, right? It just seems like such an unhappy place. But I’m glad that somebody’s doing it.
A: Yes, that’s good. Especially for the first 27 years of your life.
H: I know!
A: And if Heaven exists, what do you want to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
H: Well done!
A: Thank you so much!
H: Thank you! It was fun.

[end of interview]

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