Elena presents this beautiful interview to Maestro Lorenzo Coladonato, an Italian orchestra conductor presently living in Germany.
Music abroad sometimes means relocating for music.
This is what Maestro Lorenzo Coladonato has done. We met him in Germany, where for the last three years he’s been conducting the “Philharmonie Baden-Baden Orchestra”, where some of the greatest conductors in the history of music such as Arthur Nikisch, Felix Weingartner, Erich Kleiber and Wilhelm Furtwängler have worked. Lorenzo arrived here after working for about ten years at the Opernhaus in Zurich, one of the most active and innovative theatres in Europe.
He completed his musical training in Italy, with a degree in piano and conductorship from Milan, where he also studied composition. He took his first career steps in small theatres and with small orchestra and choral groups. After a while he decided to leave.
What pushed you to leave Italy? Did you make a decision to look for work abroad (and how), or has the occasion come up by chance?
I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work in Italy, so I started sending my cv to orchestras and theatres of several European countries. I got an answer from Zurich, and after an audition, I was offered a job there.
In order to work there you had to learn a new language. Did you find it difficult learning such a harsh language as German, and especially Swiss German? What helped you in this matter?
I immediately realized that the sooner I learnt the language, the quicker I would get acquainted with the new country. I put a lot of effort in studying and practising daily, trying to speak German from the very beginning, even if I made many mistakes. I was also helped by the Theatre, which was offering free German courses to the new employees.
Did you adapt easily from the point of view of the working environment? Were you able to create relationships with your colleagues?
The world of music is cosmopolitan in itself, and the Opernhaus of Zurich was even more so. I still remember with pleasure the open and lively atmosphere of this wonderful town, colleagues ad friends from all over the world. This is why entering the work environment was not difficult.
In the theatre I also met my wife, who was singing in the choir: we share the same passion for music, and besides she is half Italian!
You have lived many years in Zurich and then in Germany. Do you consider these two countries challenging from an artistic and professional point of view? Would you suggest a young musician to follow your path?
From my point of view Germany is a less dynamic country than Switzerland, despite all stereotypes on the Swiss! However, it offers a lot from a musical point of view: theatre and active orchestras in practically every city, not to mention excellency and the musical tradition of places like Berlin or Munich. Culture and musical education are really spread in a deep way, classical music is respected in a way that in Italy we have unfortunately forgotten. That’s why I warmly encourage young musicians to find the courage to look for opportunities abroad.
What is in store for you in the future? Do you plan to remain for long where you are or are you ready to spread your wings and “conduct” yourself elsewhere?
I don’t think Baden-Baden will be the last part of my journey, but I don’t yet know where I’ll go in the future: my life is where I can make music in a satisfying way!
I am lucky to have a wife who supports me: together we are ready to face new life experiences, wherever they bring us.
The courage to go, the trials but also the satisfactions on the way, the support of his partner have turned a relocation for love of music into an itinerant life, full of rewarding and enriching personal and professional experiences. Thank you Lorenzo and good luck for the future!
Some practical tips
First of all, we suggest that young musicians who intend to look for a career in the musical field abroad get a very good training: a rich and updated curriculum, both in English and in Italian, is the password for a possible engagement abroad.
It is useful to start thinking of designing a website that shows studying and working experience in a professional and catchy way, with multimedia clips and photos that cannot be added in a written cv.
There are some specialized websites that give information about working positions, courses and contests. The most famous at an international level is called musicalchairs (https://www.musicalchairs.info/), you can browse it in different languages besides English, including Italian, French, German and Spanish. For those specifically interested in Germany and North European countries, Maestro Coladonato suggested this website: https://buehnenjobs.de/.