From London – Europik music online festival in response to the current health crisis to support musicians

from London to Rome

The world has suddenly changed and, today we are facing the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected all of us in a different and profound way. 

In the music industry, the cancellations of festivals and concerts have plunged musicians into unprecedented insecurity for an unknown period. 

Nonetheless, I managed to interview, virtually,  two musicians, both cellists who are currently living in London, Thibault Blanchard and Urška Horvat.

As a response to being unable to play live concerts, they have decided to launch Europik Music Online Festival which is a series of ticketed live stream online concerts. 

The aim is to keep alive the relationship between the audience and the artists and create high quality live performances with all their natural energy and spontaneity. 

Personally, I p think this is an amazing idea, so I wanted to ask the two young musicians about the importance of spreading classical music around the world and what it means to them to live abroad, understanding differences in culture and how they came up with this idea. 

Thibault and Urška, first could you tell us more about yourselves?

Urška: I was born in Slovenia into a non-musical family, but music was always strongly present at home. My mother noticed my love and interest in music at a very early stage. I was spending the majority of my time with a cassette player, listening to all kinds of music: singing along and dancing to the music. At the age of five years old I was enrolled in a music school, where I was introduced to the beautiful world of music which still enchants me every day after more than twenty years of living it. 

Thibault:  Contrary to Urška, I was brought up in a family of musicians in France. Both of my parents are saxophone players and I had a privilege as a young boy to get to know many amazing musicians. I  got a complete image of what the life of a musician looks like and see all the positive and negative sides of it. 

Why have you decided to live in London?

Urška:  London is a perfect city, with its exciting opportunities, multicultural, artistic environment and people. The whole city is flooded with creativity, every area has its own distinct style. However being a big, spread out city it requires a lot of energy and commitment. You have to get used to living in a high-pressure environment, full of challenges. As musicians and human beings, we felt we needed a challenge and a new opportunity to grow and London has pushed us out of our comfort zones. It has enabled us to develop our full potentials, express and present our own ideas and projects and made us collaborate with many different musicians and artists.

Particularly at this point, having lost the majority of our work and suddenly having lots of spare time, we tried to use this time for doing things that keep us creative, motivated and organised. That is how the idea of a creation of Europik Music Online Festival started.         

Thibault, you are the organiser of this International Online Festival. Could you explain us more about the project? 

Europik Music Online Festival was created in response to the current health crisis to support our musicians. Seven live stream concerts, broadcast live from the UK and France with 15 international musicians. We have invited renowned artists as well as young emerging artists at the beginning of promising careers, all coming from different countries. Performing live represents the mainstay of the musical profession and we want to offer a performance platform for artists to reconnect with their audience and bring back a sense of community between the listeners and musicians. In these uncertain times, it is important for us to create live performances with all their usual energy, spontaneity, expression of life and body and risk-taking in a real concert environment. After a few obstacles on the way, we managed to find appropriate concert halls with a piano and a good internet connection. No performance exists without an audience, so we do hope we will attract as many music lovers and concert goers as possible with our wonderful bunch of musicians and beautiful programmes. At the end of the performances, the musicians will also be available to answer questions from the audience, via an interactive chat mechanism on the online platform.

Urška how important is it to share music worldwide?

In my opinion music has no borders and is a universal language. Sharing music worldwide allows us, musicians, to convey our feelings, stories and important messages to a wider audience, which we all can relate to and feel inspired by, regardless the age, background or nationality. Speaking through music can be very powerful, challenging and unifying. 

On one hand, we have the international aspect of musicians, living abroad, travelling, performing and making music around the globe, that makes us learn from people of all different backgrounds and getting a wide variety of inputs from different environments. These experiences are very important. However, on the other hand, being active in your own community, where one is based is just as important. We both are dedicating some of our time to the local community, by working for organisations such as Live Music Now by Yehudi Menuhin and Concordia Foundation. These experiences have been really enriching as they give the opportunity to bring music to people who can very rarely experience a live music performance.  

It would be nice to bring your music to Italy. Thibault, have you got any plans for the near future?

I would love to bring our music to Italy. Italy is an amazing country, not only for its gastronomy and beautiful places, but also for its culture and music.  There are so many wonderful composers, musicians, instrument makers that have been an inspiration for the rest of Europe. 

Due to the current situation, we have been exploring new ways to spread our music everywhere.

For the time being, we are only able to do this virtually as Europik Music Online Festival, therefore I would kindly like to invite everyone to join us from the end of June until beginning of September.

*Barbara Panetta, scrittrice

Barbara Panetta