Interview with LP Duo Ensemble

After a great concert that took place in December 2017, during the Concert season „Convivium Musicum 17/18“, we talked with members of the LP Duo about the program that they performed, jointly playing, new ideas and, of course, quantum music. On this occasion, the conversation with Sonja Loncar and Andrija Pavlovic was led by Ljubica Guzvic, PR of Concert season. The interview was published in the classical music magazine Muzika Klasika, no. 31, year IX, April – June 2018.

MAGIC GAME OF FOUR HANDS

Since September 2016, Kragujevac’s cultural life has been richer for the Concert Season “Convivium Musicum”. Through interpretations of world-renowned soloists and ensembles, the audience has the opportunity to enjoy performances of well-known works of classical literature during the series of concerts, but also to get acquainted with new achievements of domestic and foreign composers. Organizers, young professionals from the Association of Citizens “CONVIVIUM MUSICUM”, with program orientation strive to that the name of their manifestation becomes a synonym for quality, culture, diversity, uniqueness and genuine musical enjoyment. Among the great number of top artists, who performed in the previous two editions of the Concert Season, is the ensemble LP Duo. Pianists Sonja Loncar and Andrija Pavlovic perform together for fifteen years, distinguishing them self with refined research in the context of artistic music. The professionalism and inventiveness of these artists has been confirmed by a significant number of prestigious awards and recognitions. With the unique magic and, emotions they carry, they redefine the classical performance of the piano duo and capture hearts of every auditorium they are performing for. The charisma that they emanate from the scene, we felt in a conversation conducted after the concert in Kragujevac, where they performed the piece Canto Ostinato by composer Simeon Ten Holt.

Koncert LP Duo (19) How did you devise program for this concert? Why did you select this piece particularly?
Sonja Loncar: So far in Kragujevac, we have played twice as a duo in the last four years. First time, it was a more classic repertoire, and the second time more modern, mostly composed of shorter compositions. We love to play here because there is always a lot of audience that welcomes us well. We wanted to introduce something completely new, which we know that no one here really played. We thought about what we loved most, and the first choice was Canto Ostinato.
Andrija Pavlovic: I would add that Canto Ostinato is our lucky charm. We played it for the first time in 2005, after which we went to the finals of the world’s largest piano duos competition – “Dranoff Miami Two Pianos”. That opened the door in a way for us. Canto helped us to play a large number of concerts abroad, and regularly in the Netherlands. We play almost every year there, where this composition is a kind of ritual and religion. It’s very popular and it’s always nice when a lot of people gather, who sometimes lie, when it comes to lying concerts. We enjoy each time we play this piece and it’s different every time.

As a duo, you are together for fifteen years now. How is it to collaborate and create in the same ensemble for so long?
Sonja Loncar: It’s like some kind of marriage. And more than that. We have learned to learn from each other and that might be something most important. We also learned to tolerate one another, I do not think in a negative sense, but in a positive one. In order for a one to play with someone else, one must listen to another well and must hear one well. It’s the only way. Learning to listen, and not only when we play, it is necessary for it to last so long.
Andrija Pavlovic: When the duo is in question, then people have to always look at each other like in a mirror and it’s actually normal to become close. Because of this closeness, they begin to play. Basically, when you look, the duos are brothers and sisters or partners. It is important that we can make progress together. We are changing both as people and as musicians, and of course we follow and support each other.

You are performing very actively around the world. Which destination, hall or audience has left most impressions on you?
Sonja Loncar: It is, of course, Carnegie Hall. Like all musicians on the planet, we always dreamed about playing in that building. To enter it at all, and then even to have a solo concert… Except that it’s some kind of prestige, this hall really has perfect acoustics and perfect pianos. The audience was wonderful and we felt so excited. That concert was one of our personal milestones in some way. After that, I can say, we crossed to some new level or in some new dimension.
Andrija Pavlovic: There were many beautiful concerts. If I have to single out some… There are always nice concerts in Denmark, Copenhagen. Also, I remember one concert from Chicago when we played live in the radio program. It looked like in some old movies. This feeling, when a speaker announces each composition and you know that about twenty-one to thirty thousand people are listening. It’s really exciting – when you know that you’re in a small box in someone’s car.

Quantum music can’t be bypassed. Where does idea and your interest for this type of music come from?
Sonja Loncar: This is a project founded by engineer Dragan Novkovic and quantum physicist Vlatko Vedral, who is a professor at the University of Oxford. They invited us to give our artistic contribution to their idea. They measured that sound in the quantum world, and then we “played” with these frequencies and created the compositions. We always like to explore and it was interesting for us to connect what we do with science. Quantum physics is something we can understand in a philosophical way, although we do not have any knowledge of mathematics or physics. Guided by quantum physicists, who are really one of the best, we have managed to understand it and make something interesting together. And we will do even more!

The instrument that you created for the needs of making quantum music, a hybrid piano, had its premiere, first in Singapore, then in Belgrade. You also presented it on a European tour. What are the reactions of audience?
Andrija Pavlović: This is an instrument that was created in this project, but it is actually our imagination too. We wanted to make such an instrument because we played various types of synthesizers before that, then we played piano and synthesizers and then in the end we realized that we would like to play synthesizers on real pianos. The first world premiere of hybrid piano was in Singapore in March, and a European tour in the autumn of last year. Reactions are wonderful. People see two pianos, and they hear some completely different sounds. It opens up new ways of composing and performing, and we are very much looking forward to it. We expect more concerts next year.

You have already mentioned that you worked with scientists and engineers within the project “Quantum Music” and on the creation of a hybrid piano. Who are they and where do they come from?
Sonja Loncar: As I said, quantum physicists Vlatko Vedral from Oxford, Klaus Mølmer from Denmark, and Andrew Arner, who is currently stationed in Singapore. From Belgrade, they were engineers prof. Dragan Novkovic, Darko Lazovic, Dule Petkovic and a few others with whom we worked here in Serbia. This cooperation was very interesting. At first, we did not understand anything, but since the project lasted for a long time, we managed to come up with the same conclusions, but from several directions it was very interesting. Quantum physicists and engineers came from different sides and us from third. Somehow, we found the common essence and the truth and we were very happy.

How was it to exchange ideas and create with them?
Andrija Pavlovic: It was pretty tense in the beginning because we did not know each other. We come from different fields – them from science, us from art. Quantum physicists are considered to be the creative elite of the world. We musicians think for ourselves − that is how we are educated − that we are the most creative. There was a small conflict, but, fortunately, as soon as we played the first concert, they were so enthusiastic that we continued to fantastically communicate and exchange in essence different type of knowledge and experiences.

How many similarities are there when working with scientists, and how many differences as opposed to cooperation with musicians?
Sonja Loncar: The scientists are exact, precise, accurate and there is no conversation about any changes and some abstract things at all. Everything is quite simple. It’s really wonderful and something that we, the musicians, sometimes miss. So, with them, I must say, we were really in a perfect balance.
Andrija Pavlovic: Quantum physics is a rather abstract science for us on the side lines and their every result is mathematically justified. But also, all the quantum physicists we’ve met play an instrument so they like music.

The LP Elektro is your “electronic side”. What can an audience expect from you when it comes to electro-pop?
Sonja Loncar: The idea is to finish the first official EP in the next two or three months, with five songs. We would love to play sometime somewhere. LP Elektro is, as I would say, the “dark side” of LP Duo, but maybe it’s also bright. We’ll see.

In the end, what would you say to young musicians in which new directions and ideas are emerging?
Andrija Pavlovic: I would recommend them to work a lot and to take the things into their own hands. Then, when it’s hard to work and when they feel that other people do not support them, do not surrender and simply use every chance. To be diligent, because if they work a lot, then they have a chance.
Sonja Loncar: I just want to add what I say to all my students. It’s not easy, but they can’t give up. I am sure that every persistence and work in the end has its own success. Even in our country.
Andrija Pavlovic: And, of course, not forget to have fun along the way.

Ljubica Guzvic
Photo: Stefan Adamovic
Translation: Ljubica Guzvic