Daniel Hope

The violinist and artistic director of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival (Festival MV) talks about this year’s programme and its memorial concert for the victims of 9/11

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Violinist Daniel Hope met the director of Festival MV when he was just eight years old. Since then, Hope has been one of the festival’s prize-winners and closely connected with the event throughout its 22-year history. Now in his first year as artistic director, Hope talks to us about this year’s festival and the 9/11 memorial concert he’s programmed on 10 September.

Tell us how you first became involved in the festival.
I’ve been connected with the festival now for almost 20 years and I was one of the first artists to start playing here when it started. The province of Mecklenburg is in the former East Germany, which at the time of the first festival was just recovering after the collapse of Communism, and I’ve seen it grow to the most extraordinary heights. I was a prize-winner and one of the young artists in the early days, and my involvement grew until one day they asked me if I’d consider taking on the position of artistic director.

Was the decision to take on the role an easy one?
I love the opportunity of inviting friends and colleagues to perform and creating programmes, whether I’m a part of that in terms of performance or whether I just get to listen. I am performing at Festival MV but I try not to programme myself too much because I don’t think it’s the job of a music director to be always on the stage. But the festival did want me to have a musical presence as well as a programming one.

You’ve overseen the 124 concerts for this year’s programme – including a remembrance concert for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. How did you go about choosing the music for that concert?
It was quite a challenge because something like that demands music which is solemn, but at the same time the choice of music needed to have some kind of significance. The first piece that came to mind was Strauss’s Metamorphosen because it’s a work that’s about war, destruction and it touches people very deeply. For the rest of the programme I asked the other musicians (from the New York-based Ensemble ACJW) to come up with solo pieces and they chose Stravinsky’s Elegy for Viola, a piece by a young American composer, Adam Schoenberg, called Ayudame and I will play the Kaddisch, by Ravel, which is the Jewish prayer for the dead. The Rabbi of the province, a man called William Wolffe, will be speaking at the concert as well. He’s almost 90 and was born in Germany but escaped the Nazis and fled to Holland and then Hendon. He’s back in Germany now and I thought he was the ideal figurehead for the concert.

What about the future?
I will certainly be working as the festival’s artistic director for the next three years and we’re discussing things after that. The people of the province are so proud of the festival and we feel we’ve really accomplished so much here, so I’m certainly staying around.

Interview by Elizabeth Davis