Austrian trumpeter Selina Ott is fast rising to the top in the classical music world. Her career has taken off since she became the first woman ever to win the ARD International Music Competition in her category, in 2018. In recent years she has performed several concerts with the best orchestras in Europe and Japan. Selina also features in this season’s Euroradio Top Young Performers Series, aimed at promoting and supporting emerging young classical talents. On 11 November, she performed under the baton of Patrick Hahn and accompanied by the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, in a concert broadcast live by Saarländischer Rundfunk (Germany). Before the performance we submitted her our usual ‘3 questions’.
Q: You are featured in the Euroradio Top Young Performers, a curated series of the Euroradio Season. This selection of concerts has the potential to reach a huge number of listeners from public service radio channels in Europe and beyond. How do you feel about being selected for such a series?
A: I feel very honoured to have been chosen for the Euroradio Top Young Performers Series, because for young musicians who are starting solo careers like me, it's very important to become known by the audience, and to be heard. Especially in these times with so many different crises like the Coronavirus, climate change and now the energy crisis. It's even more crucial for us to make our own name and to continue to support culture, because culture is such an essential part of everybody’s daily life. Most of the time it's not appreciated enough because it's not necessary to survive, but it's what defines us as humans, and so we have to preserve that. As young performers we have to work even harder to make culture strong again after the Coronavirus crisis.
You were the first woman in the 70-year history of the ARD International Music Competition to be awarded the 1st prize in the trumpet category, back in 2018. How did this achievement influence your career?
The ARD competition has given me opportunities likely to last my whole solo career. It has opened lots of doors for me and given me the possibility to work with different orchestras from all over Europe and recently also in Japan. I’m very lucky to have won this competition. Without it, I would not be where I am today. It has simply changed everything for me and enabled me to continue pursuing a solo career.
Your concert on 11 November, offered by Saarländischer Rundfunk and broadcast live by Romanian Radio and at a later time by other radio stations, has been included in the series. You performed Vladimir Peskin's Trumpet Concerto No. 1, accompanied by the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Can you tell us more about this work and how you approach it?
When I perform a piece, it’s always important for me to know the background, to know in which circumstances the composer lived. Because that changes everything. In which circumstances did composers compose the piece? That is something which I think you can hear through the music. Nowadays we artists need to hold fast to this kind of musical idea. It’s really difficult to explain music in words, because you have to hear it.
But what I can also say about this piece is that it’s very emotional and was still composed in a very romantic way, in the sense of the genre of course. It dates from the mid-20th century, but the composing style in Russia at the time was lagging many years behind. The emotions must come through when performing this piece. Furthermore, the Russian trumpet-playing style is quite different to the German or Austrian styles. So it’s good to study that style a little bit. You don’t have to copy it, but it has to influence your interpretation of the piece.
It’s important for me to have all those things checked: background of a composer, trumpet style, etc. I also like to listen to the old recordings because fortunately we have all the recordings of Timofeï Dokchitser, the trumpet player for whom that piece was originally written. That is just a perfect way to get the feeling of the Russian music and how it was played at that time. I listened often to these recordings and try to let them influence my interpretation. That’s how I’ve learned and studied the piece. And then I get my own musical ideas, and that is what the audience will hear. I’m always very happy to perform this piece because it’s written in a deeply romantic composing style, and that’s always good for the audience, even if they probably do not know the composer. But it will for sure be a very good time for them to hear this work. I think they will get into the spirit of it.
Selina Ott performed Vladimir Peskin’s Trumpet Concerto No. 1 with the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Patrick Hahn. The concert took place on 11 November and was broadcast live by Saarländischer Rundfunk. It is available in MUS under reference EURO/2022-2023/TYP/003.