Still in his early twenties, Croatian cellist Stjepan Hauser has already performed in the biggest venues in Europe, as the soloist with many major orchestras. Hauser is also a Youtube sensation in his own right: the video where he imitates great cellists (including Rostropovich, Yo Yo Ma and Jacqueline Du Pré) has received over 70,000 hits.
On Wednesday 13 January, he performs a solo concert as part of the Park Lane Group Young Artists New Year Series 2010 , a great opportunity to catch this up and coming artist. Tickets are available from Southbank centre’s website.
Tell us about the programme you will perform at the Park Lane Group Young Artists New Year Series concert.
At the PLG concert I will be performing three pieces that I have never played before, so this will be my performance debut of all of the pieces. The entire concert will be cello solo which is always very challenging for the performer. I will open the concert with two London premieres, Eric Tanguy’s Invocation and Geoffrey Poole’s On the High Wire. They are great pieces with a very clear structure and strong message for the listener, so I will do my best to pull out this message! The concert will finish with Zoltan Kodaly: Sonata for Cello Solo. That is truly a masterpiece with all those amazing effects and sounds and it is considered to be probably the hardest cello piece ever written. If the audience is pleased, I might play a few encores that I really love!
You are famous for your performances of some very romantic classical music pieces, but your repertoire also includes contemporary classical music. Is it important to you to have this range? What does it mean to you to perform contemporary classical pieces?
As a hopeless romantic, I was not very keen on performing contemporary music in the past, but lately I have been trying to change my attitude and push myself to perform more and more contemporary music. In fact I find that contemporary music that is written extremely well is better and more effective than any other music: very often it is atmospheric, full of expressions, effects and sounds that you never hear in classical pieces.
Contemporary music is also very important for the cello as an instrument because it expands the basic cello techniques and possibilities. It has allowed me to discover new possibilities for my instrument, with new and different techniques.
In a performer, contemporary classical music develops a completely different feel of structure, how to shape and form the piece and a different concept of sound. Also you have to use your imagination and make the piece as interesting as possible for the listener, which can be very hard with this kind of music sometimes. What the composer wanted to say with the piece is always most important, and you need to put it across.
How did you become such a popular youtube performer? Your video imitating the great cellists has nearly 70,000 hits!
I just put those imitations as a joke: I didn’t realise how popular they would be, especially in the cello world. When I fell in love with the cello in high school, I became totally obsessed with it and I used to listen to a lot of recordings of all the great cellists and learn a lot about them and their playing. Imitation is something I was always good at: not only imitating cellists, but some composers, pop singers, actors even some pianists and violinists too!
What next for you in 2010?
I have many different talents, but the one that I really think it is worth of developing is improvisation and creating my own music on cello. Cello is an instrument with endless possibilities and my wish is to explore them to the maximum extend. I don’t dare to share my ideas in public yet but I am working on it every day and hoping to start playing my own music on stage!