A personal account from pianist and conductor Michalis Boliakis.
I travelled to Copenhagen in May 2021, at a time when all concerts and shows were cancelled or taking place without audience in my country. I spent nine amazing days in the city, working as Barbara Hannigan’s assistant for the revival of La voix humaine, and then as pianist for the May 16th Equilibrium concert, along with four amazing singers.
From the first moments in Copenhagen, I was impressed by the way of life and the beauty of the city. I almost exclusively commuted by bike, like everyone else seemed to do, using the wide bike lanes and taking advantage of the charming districts I crossed. We were lucky enough to have gorgeous, shiny days most of the time ; biking through the parks or along the canals was a really enjoyable part of the day.
La voix humaine is an extremely challenging show that had been given only once before Copenhagen. Its complexity lies in its unusual form and concept : three cameras film the singer-conductor throughout the show, and the result is projected in real time on a screen behind the orchestra. The Danish Radio house definitely was an ideal venue for the revival ; the sound of the hall was amazing, the orchestra players extremely competent, sensitive and genuinely involved in the project, the technical team always present and helpful, ready to solve any last-minute issue. The shows were a huge success, and the audience seemed very moved by the vulnerable and unstable character of Elle. Barbara received the prestigious Sonning prize and gave a speech that I found very sensitive, powerful and inspiring for my own musical career and the relationships I build with my colleagues.
The Equilibrium concert took place in similar conditions : the hall was generously resonant, perfectly comfortable for singing, and I had a very good piano to play on. Signe, who works at the venue, was our referent for any request that we had, always there, motivated and excited about our concert. Each of the four singers sang two different sets of songs. Our programme was at the same time coherent and diverse, and my role was particularly enjoyable, as the voices I played with were so different, and all singers were deeply committed artists, with strong and unique personalities. I felt so fortunate after this concert, which was my first Equilibrium experience, and I am looking forward to the ones to come!