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Talent is the only news that is always new: a conversation with composer Mammed Huseynov

11.11.2023 | 16:13 |
 Talent is the only news that is always new: a conversation with composer Mammed Huseynov

The Moscow International Art Festival «Sounds of Dutar» named after Nury Halmamedov was held in the Russian capital for the seventh time, having completed its marathon last week. The project is unique in itself: to combine national classics with new creative hiccups of composers, young and novice performers with experienced musicians and mentors, musicologists – with a live audience. The current edition of the festival has shown that the project is in demand, saturated with growth points and carries important messages – cultural, spiritual, creating spaces of a special creative ecology and musical landscape.


Mammad Huseynov, founder and art director of the Sounds of Dutar festival, Chairman of the Turkmen regional branch of the Union of Composers of Eurasia, tells about the history of this project and its development over the years in an interview with ORIENT:

Mamed, tell me first, what gave you the idea to organize the Sounds of Dutar festival in Moscow?

– The festival originally appeared as a project aimed at popularizing Turkmen music abroad. At the opening of the VII festival, together with Nurgeldy Seyidov, head of the branch of the Humanitarian Association of World Turkmens for St. Petersburg and the Northwest of the Russian Federation, the Society of Turkmen Culture in St. Petersburg «MEKAN», we recalled the history of our acquaintance. As a student of the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Music College in 2006, I organized a concert dedicated to the Day of Rebirth, Unity and Poetry of Makhtumkuli Fraga in the Rimsky-Korsakov Museum-Apartment, to which I invited representatives of the MEKAN Society.

In addition to the Turkmen people, the concert was attended by connoisseurs of classical Turkmen music, who belonged to different peoples of the multinational population of the northern capital. It turned out that in such a cultural city there was an acute hunger for the national music of the East.


Since then, I have always tried to include works by Turkmen composers in the programs of my performances in order to attract the attention of performing musicians and the audience to this little-known music. Turkmen academic music is unique, it is based on the ancient and multifaceted musical creativity of the Turkmen people. I have not changed this tradition in my tours, which took place in the cities of Russia, Germany, Israel, Spain, Canada, Portugal, France. The concerts featured works by Turkmen composers Veli Muhatov, Chary Nurimov, Danatar Ovezov, Rejep Rejepov, Nura Halmamedov and my own compositions. Thanks to the success that accompanied our performances, the idea of creating the Moscow International Festival of Arts «Sounds of Dutar» arose.

In my youth, I was struck by Hegel's phrase: «The spirit of every nation must merge into the Universal spirit of the World.» Then I formulated a goal for myself that Turkmen academic music is worthy to join the world art!


– Could you describe to us your first experience as an art director of the festival?

– Organizing these first concerts of Turkmen music was a good practice for me. I have also been organizing cultural reception programs at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation for a long time.

– Please tell us briefly how your project has been developing all these years, how much has it been scaled?

– The first festival in 2015 was a series of concerts. The second, in 2016, will be concerts, a round table dedicated to musical and cultural traditions and Turkmenistan's contribution to the world treasury of humanitarian values, an art exhibition «Legends of Ancient Merv: the evolution of the image». Since the third festival in 2017, a contest of performers has appeared. From that moment on, our festival began to contain various forms of socio-cultural activities: concerts, music competitions, art exhibitions and exhibitions of decorative and applied arts, scientific conferences and competitions of ethno-cultural pedagogical projects.


The backbone component of the festival's content was academic art based on ethno-cultural traditions aimed at popularizing Turkmen music in Russia, its history, demonstrating interaction with music and traditional culture of the Russian and other peoples of the Russian Federation. The mission of this festival was to develop the multicultural interests of the participants.

– Does it become more difficult to make a program and choose artists participating in the festival? How far do people come to your festival from?

– In the first festival, which was more like a meeting of friends, there was a small circle of fans of Turkmen art. If earlier a little more than 50 people took part in the festival, then in 2023 all previous records were broken. Only there are more than 200 participants in the competition, and there are also teams that are outside the competition program, the so–called honorary guests – 166 people. 366 people performed on stage at the gala concert, not counting our winners and laureates who received excellent prizes. There are significantly more people willing to speak than the time limit allows! But the concert lasted from 16 to 21 hours non-stop!


Now we can say with confidence that in total about 1000 performing musicians, choreographic and choral groups from Armenia, Guatemala, Germany, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, the UAE, Russia, Slovenia, the USA, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, France, South Korea, Japan and others took part in the past festivals countries.

I would like to say separately about the gifts that come to the address of the festival. Our organizing committee jokes that it's time to open a Museum of gifts of the festival, in which we would exhibit those gifts that sponsors prepare for the winners of the festival, as well as those that are brought to the festival as a high appreciation of its activities.

I want to give the most recent examples. The creative team of the Northern Lights company, congratulating us on the successful holding of the VII Moscow International Festival of Arts «Sounds of Dutar», presented as a gift a jewelry composition created in honor of the 85th anniversary of the composer Nura Halmamedov, made of precious stones and 925 sterling silver. This is a wonderful artistic work with complex traditional techniques, such as the fine art of cutting agate stone called «The Eye of the Creator».

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Another gift from the artistic agency is a sculptural composition «Musicians», one of whom holds an instrument resembling a dutar in his hands. Gifts from the Director General of the Foundation for the Development of Continuing Professional Education Mavzhuda Nurullayeva from Kaliningrad – exclusive pens made of natural Baltic amber, as well as a certificate for one of our laureates to participate in an educational intensive (to choose from) at the school of creative Industries of the RGISI branch in Kaliningrad.

– How would you describe your own style of the festival?

– Since the main emphasis in these festivals is on Turkmen music and traditional culture, which is contained in the name, and the venue was the city of Moscow, this festival can be considered as Russian-Turkmen. It is important to take into account its broad international context, the interrelationships and mutual influence of musical traditions of different peoples and countries in the modern musical world «without borders».

The international festival «Sounds of Dutar» promotes the strengthening of the traditions of friendship and spiritual closeness between the peoples of Russia and the CIS countries. It became a colorful event in a series of events dedicated to the celebration of National Unity Day, celebrated annually in Russia on November 4.

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– What was new in the current season of the festival?

– Each festival has its own theme, a program is being created, we are looking for new forms, a «highlight», we try to make it a unique event, only the site remains unchanged – the Museum and Exhibition Complex of the Russian Academy of Arts (Zurab Tsereteli Art Gallery). We have openings and gala concerts there. Conferences highlight the most painful points in musical culture, raise a wide range of problems of moral and aesthetic education, etc. They are held in various places.

Today, a very important factor for conferences is the technical equipment of the conference hall and the status of the venue where it takes place. This year we have a new partner – the Russian State Library. It's a pleasure to work with them. And what amazing facilities they provide us with. I remember «Pashkov's House» when I was writing my dissertation, I spent a lot of time in my native «Leninka». Now they are our partners. We have already received a proposal to hold a conference in the RGB next year as part of the VIII festival «Sounds of Dutar» and our conference will be included in the current events of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.


In addition, every new season we try to hold a new art exhibition. This year, an exhibition of creative works by Darius Asadullayev was held, which caused surprise among our regular viewers. Usually we presented genre paintings by Turkmen artists, and this year – conceptualism. This gave the effect of a slight shock, which only sharpened the perception. But the main task is to show the Turkmen culture from different sides, we have achieved it.

– Are there any headliners at the contest?

– As for the headliners, here we can say that we create them ourselves. These are our laureates, especially the 1st degree. The musical future promises to be good, very strong professional guys. I was personally captivated by a participant from Guatemala, singer Salada Argeta Carla Mariana, a ready-made opera artist. And violinists are so strong! And how many of them there are this year. We usually have a lot of pianists and vocalists. But this competition can be called vocal-violin.

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Our feature is the Grand Prix Award. This is an annual scholarship paid to the winner by our partners. Our permanent partner is the Foundation for the Development of Science and Innovation. This year, the Grand Prix was awarded to the family duo «Clockwork Carousel» of Elizabeth and Vsevolod Arshinov, their performing skills and artistry conquered all the jury members, it was a unanimous decision.

– Is there anything that particularly excites you before the start of the festival?

– I care about everything. The creation of each festival is also creativity. I try to achieve quality, I double-check everything ten times. But education also helps. Socio-cultural activity is a science that has its own rules and laws. In addition to piano and composing, I am a certified specialist in this field. The main rule is the same in any job: it doesn't happen well – quickly. Everything needs to be prepared in advance.


– Apart from the theme and name of the festival, is there any form of capacity building for this project to expand its reach, both participants and audience? Or: what would you like to experiment with on his site?

– Like Pasternak: «Talent is the only news that is always new.» It is not necessary to fill the forms, but the contents. Evgeny Volkov proposed to hold a competition of composers for the next year. We will probably introduce this form as part of the festival. I have a lot of composer friends, so I rejected this idea as much as I could. How can I not give a prize to my friends? But if I'm not on the jury, then all the contradictions with my conscience will be removed. I invite everyone, but I will not judge.


– Who is on your team? Who helps you with organizational and creative issues?

– Once, at the first festivals, they managed with small forces. Now, in addition to the Organizing Committee, I have two assistants and there is enough work for everyone. A lot of work!!! Culturologist Tatiana Solodkova – co-chairman of the Organizing Committee, head of the press center of the festival. She does a lot of work in many areas. I never tire of thanking her.

This year, Evgeny C Volkov, a Russian conductor, choirmaster, and theater teacher, joined our team. He is also on the jury of the competition, he is also an entertainer of concerts. They say about such people «a walking encyclopedia». Also, the new moderator of the scientific conference is Yulia Ponomarenko, a theater and cinema composer, conductor, music expert, author and presenter of cultural and educational programs «MuzGid».


In Turkmenistan, we also have a moderator of the conference – associate professor of the Conservatory Elena Osipova. Such a need arose in connection with the installation of a teleconference with the Turkmen National Conservatory during the conference, which was attended by more than 20 musicologists and teachers of various departments. A lot of interesting things were told by Nury Halmamedov's friend, the sculptor Glychmurad Yarmamedov. I would like to express my special words of gratitude to Rasul Hangeldievich, Rector of the Maya Kulieva TNC, for the great work he did to make the conference take place in the form we conceived.

I especially thank and will not stop thanking the Academy of Arts in the person of Zurab Konstantinovich.

– The Turkmen media are closely following your festival, and what is the attention from local, Russian media and colleagues to this project?

– There were several TV reports on MIR 24, Moscow 24. The leading Russian media are our partners: the multidisciplinary company «Art Center Plus», the News Agency «Musical Klondike», this season the magazine «Perspektiva. Search generation». The Media Group Project Publishing house in 2022 made a big article about the festival and my interview in the «Faces of the Generation» section. We have an agreement that we can offer characters for interviews that are published in a glossy magazine. I offered them to do an interview with the artist Darius Asadullaev. It's coming out soon.

There is also an international magazine «Turkmenistan», which is published in Moscow. They cover almost all festivals. Their correspondents are present at each of our events.


– Is the accessibility of classical music important in your opinion, especially when it comes to the development of culture and understanding of art? How do you think the Sounds of Dutar festival can help with such accessibility and education?

– There have been studies that classical art is available to no more than 3% of people on Earth. I come to the conclusion that it is impossible to increase this percentage. You can make it fashionable, like Moscow opera houses with incredibly high ticket prices, and it becomes just pathetic to go to this or that event.

Today, education is being simplified everywhere, often many pseudo-scientists ask questions why it is necessary to strain children with complex literature, world art culture, all this may not be useful. Yes, of course, the knowledge of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff may not be useful in life. You won't get enough of reading and music, but what makes a person human? And this is the Height of knowledge that no one should be deprived of.


So much interesting, brilliant does not sound today. During the festival, we saw that not only Turkmen music, but also the compositions of other national schools need to be revived. The unique heritage of representatives of national schools of composition is practically not heard in the cultural space today. I am glad that the festival has turned into a platform where multicultural interests of young people develop on the basis of knowledge, in contact with the genius of the people. The music is coming back. I often hear words of gratitude from teachers of music schools and universities that, while preparing for the festival, they got the works of Soviet composers that had not been played for a long time.

– What have you learned as a person and as an artist, as a composer, working as a festival director?

– Love people no matter what.

– Festival – Moscow. There was no idea to arrange his field releases?

– In 2022, we decided not to hold the Sounds of Dutar festival in the usual format, but chose the peredvizhnik format, the purpose of which was to get acquainted with Turkmen classical music in the regions of Russia. So, on September 7, within the framework of the II International Caspian Festival of Classical Art OperaFirst 2022 («Caspian Seasons»), the Astrakhan State Philharmonic hosted the «Day of Turkmenistan», where opera singer Daria Huseynova and I performed the best of the works of Turkmen classical and contemporary composers.


On September 24 in Kaliningrad, at the State Philharmonic named after E.F. Svetlanov, the "Day of Turkmen Culture" was held, my work "Turkmen Rhapsody" based on poems by Makhtumkuli Fraga translated by Arseny Tarkovsky gave the name to the event dedicated to a significant event for Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation - the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

We hope that artists from Turkmenistan will come to our festival, and laureates from Russia and other countries will be invited to Turkmenistan. It would be a wonderful creative bridge between our countries. I am sure that this is possible. Now the younger generation is more lively, they are not afraid to experiment. We will see these times again. After all, the festival form can give a lot, I talk about it at all conferences.

All trends in the development of the XX art were laid down and formulated in Diaghilev's "Russian Seasons", in the live activities of the touring troupe. No dry directives will bring to life the love of beauty. Which allows us to say with confidence that only the organization of live concerts, only the bright creative lively atmosphere of the festival can revive interest and an insatiable craving for music and art.


– What advice would you give to young people who would like to start their career in the world of music and become famous, successful?

– Not only for musicians, but for young people in general. Create! Experiment, look for yourself. But also take care of love if you have already met it, because you can really fall in love only when you are floating in the clouds, and not when you stand on the ground and plow it. And, of course, appreciate and take care of your parents! Be grateful and learn to give thanks.

– If you had a completely free day (does this happen?), what would you do?

– I have so many creative things to do in composition, I haven't written music since the festival for two months. I will catch up. But, to be honest, this is happiness! Create! I missed you.

In conclusion, ORIENT wants to say that our experience with Mammad Huseynov was refreshing. It's nice to realize that there are people like Mamed who create festivals like "Sounds of Dutar" for the right reasons. Out of love for music, especially for national and classical music, for musicians, for whom it is a place of support and growth, a family and a gathering of like-minded people spreading the same message. This message is love, and may it last a long time.


Photo: provided by the press service of the Sounds of Dutar festival

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