Paris-based pianist extrordinarie Ivan Ilic returns to Lewis this month and brings with him a new passion for asking questions.
A regular visitor to An Lanntair arts centre since 2006, Ivan’s music has developed since his last island stint, as he’s enjoy increasing interests in American experimental music and contemporary art.
It’s an move that has seen Ivan evolve to become both more relaxed, and more daring, in his musical career.
“I’m a lot more comfortable with experimentation now, both during my performances, and in the choices I make,” he confided.
“I’m less obsessed with creating a perfect performance, and more interested in creating something that is alive. To put it a different way, I’m more interested in asking questions than in answering them.”
Ivan continued: “We tend to believe that music doesn’t really include ‘ideas’ the way literature, painting or film does. But music and musicians are a reflection of their time: ideas are always circulating in the air, and music is shaped by ideas.
“On a more personal note, I decided to stop pretending that I couldn’t reconcile my work with my curiosity about all things extra-musical. As a result I’ve become very interested in American experimental music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. At that time, the most innovative musicians in New York got their ideas from visual artists, and vice versa.
“And in my own life, I have become friends with several tremendously talented young visual artists here in France, which has sharpened my aesthetic perception.”
The fruits of his ‘sharpened’ perception are soon to be published in a book created in collaboration with the Geneva University of Art and Design – the result of a week-long workshop presented by Ivan and focusing on what catalyses creativity by recalling the close friendship between American composer Morton Feldman and painter Philip Guston in the 1960s.
Ivan’s own studies in music started aged six, with his first début recital performed age 11. He went on to earned degrees in music and mathematics at the University of California, Berkley, before moving to Paris where he was admitted to the esteemed Consérvatorie Superier de Paris.
And although the pianist has begun to investigate out-with the classical, island fans will not be disappointed with his latest An Lanntair concert as he brings the works of JS Bach and Frederic Chopin among others to the Lewis stage.
“Returning to Stornoway regularly since 2006 has been a wonderful thread in my career,” said Ivan.
“I’m not sure what I appreciate most: the focused listening of An Lanntair’s audience, the conversations and whiskey after the concert, or the invariable morning run on the island the next morning.
“It is a dialogue that has evolved over the years, and I always prepare my concerts there with special care,” he continued, adding: “This time I’ll bring a big set of JS Bach pieces to An Lanntair, which is the first time I’ve played his music in years. It will be a very special evening for me.”
It will no doubt be a special evening for audiences also as Ivan Ilic performs in An Lanntair arts centre on Saturday, January 25th.
For more information visit An Lanntair Box Office or online at www.lanntair.co.uk