During our stay at the Galway Flute Festival, we met with Silvia Careddu.
Silvia Careddu made an auspicious start to her career by winning unanimously the First Prize and the Audience prize at the 56. Concours International de Musique de Genève. Following the award, Lorin Maazel invited Silvia to become solo flute for his newly founded Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini. She later joined the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and the Wiener Symphoniker and also have been guest principal flautist with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Budapest Festival Orchestra. From 2017 until September 2019 Silvia Careddu is solo flute of the Wiener Staatsoper (Wiener Philharmoniker).
As the winner of the Geneva Competition, how has winning the competition impacted your career?
•To win the 56th Geneva Competition while I still was a student at the Paris Conservatoire, was an incredible revolution in my life.
It catapulted me into the highest level of Music. I was immediately asked to play as a soloist with orchestras, I had the chance to know the best musicians and to play with them wonderful chamber music concerts, to hold masterclasses throughout the world and it was also the start of my orchestral career as principal flute in many major european orchestras (some of them: Filarmonica A. Toscanini, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Wiener Symphoniker, Wiener Philharmoniker).
How did you prepare for the competition?
• The Geneva Competition was organised in 4 rounds, with a very beautiful and interesting program. All pieces had to be played by heart.
This point somehow decided how I should prepared myself.
To be able to perfectly memorise all pieces, I studied “from zero” everything: with this I mean that I practiced like I didn’t know the pieces. I read the scores again, very attentively and tried to memorise everything possible (rhythm, phrasing, dynamics...).
I prepared the program with my teachers in Paris (Pierre-Yves Artaud and Florence Souchard), with A. Nicolet and my former teacher (Riccardo Ghiani). I played it many times in front of friends and organised concerts to test my preparation.
A very important round was the semi-final: we were asked to compose a free 40 minutes Recital. I thought a lot about what to play and, after some advice from A. Nicolet, I decided to play a flute solo recital, focused on the most important pieces composed for this repertoire. Around the theme and variations of Les Folies d’ Espagne (M. Marais), I played one Telemann Fantaisie, Syrinx, Varèse, Jolivet incantations, Berio Sequenza and ended with the Theme of the Folies d’ Espagne.
This free round permitted all of us to express our ideas, our artistry. It was really challenging and exciting to prepare/compose it.
I decided to do to this competition the very last day of the applications deadline: it gave me three months to practise like crazy...a bit short, but somehow that was the great: I had to “use” every minute I could. I practised really a lot, with a high concentration. No distractions, no cell phones and I also did a lot of sport to keep my body and head healthy and fresh.
Practicing all that repertoire gave me an incredible focus and increased my determination. I remember this time as one of the most productive of my musical life. It was hard, of course, but I wanted to make it, to progress and, no matter the result, to be ultra prepared for this competition.
What was the atmosphere like at the competition?
• actually there was not so much time to familiarise between all candidates...
It was a hard program, no one had really the time to talk, chat or commenting...we were all very concentrated. But I can remember a very professional behavior between all of us candidates, a great organisation and a dream Jury, composed by Emmanuel Pahud (president), Michel Debost, Raymond Guiot, Robert Dick, Karl-Heinz Zöller, Soishi Minegishi, Jacques Zoon, with whom during the all competition we could not have any contact (it was a rule).
The ambience was “tense” but in a good way. Every single person that took part to the competition gave his best.
We candidates had not so many chances to meet between the competition’s rounds because we were all hosted by local families, far away from each other...by the way, I’m still in contact with the fantastic family that hosted and supported me and this is one of the best souvenirs!!!
What are your thoughts about competitions in general?
• those kind of competitions are always an opportunity to grow, as a musician and as a human being.
To prepare those difficult programs demands a huge discipline and constancy.
To win can be the occasion to be introduced in the music word but to participate, even without winning or passing any round, I truly believe it’s to be seen as a wonderful professional chance to grow.
To “compare” or challenge yourself with other candidates, is for sure also a good way to check where you are between all those great players.
But first of all, don’t forget that is a challenge with yourself: to test and reinforce your nerves, for your determination, for your character (that should be and to stay very strong and positive during the preparation and the competition).
Competitions are also important occasions to receive valid and constructive comments from the jury members (who were participants/winners of competitions themselves).
I particularly find very interesting the introduction of a free recital as that one I had in Geneva. After that, also the last Nielsen Competition introduced a similar round. To decide your own program as you would do for a concert, it shows a lot of the ideas and possibilities of a candidate.
And actually to resume what I think about competitions:
They are like concerts. Where you first of all should enjoy the Music, share it with your musical partners, with the public and most important thing, to bring it (music) the highest Sphere!