OCA PEOPLE: MARGARITA MIKHAILOVA

Born in Russia, Margarita began her studies as a pianist and choral conductor in St Petersburg Academy of Art. Since 2002 she has worked in Norway and gradually extended her repertoire from classical and romantic composers to contemporary music. After completing her Master Degree in Choral Conducting at the Norwegian Academy of Music Margarita worked with leading Norwegian vocal ensembles, such as : Norwegian Soloist Choir and Kristiansand Vocal Ensemble. She achieved critical acclaim performing Russian Orthodox Church music and modern Scandinavian repertoire.

In June 2017 she graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire — MMus, Orchestral Conducting. Margarita is currently working as a Visiting Tutor at the Conservatoire and as a freelance conductor.
During her studies in the UK she worked with various professional orchestras, such as The London Mozart Players, Philhamonisches Kammerorchester Berlin, Danub Orchestra(Budapest, Hungary), Amber Sound Symphony Orchestra( Liepaja, Latvia), Estonian National Youth Orchestra (Tallinn, Estonia), St Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Margarita has conducted a few contemporary music premieres both in Norway and the UK.

OCA: Tell us about yourself and your activity / work
MM: I was born and grew up in the northern part of Russia – often called the Russian North. For almost all of my life since the start of the millennium I have spent abroad – both in Norway and the UK.

I always found the fact that the place where you’re born influences the person you become a very fascinating one.

Seeing various cultures around the world, learning three new languages and becoming quite a multicultural person, I always save the warmest place in my heart for my hometown of Arkhangelsk. With its famous wooden architecture, bone and wood carving traditions, the long, cold and dark winter nights and the cordial hospitality of Pomor people.

OCA: Do you have any personal projects that you would like to talk about?
MM: Paradoxically, music was not my biggest passion when I was a kid. Just like the millions of other girls at the time, I dreamed about becoming a dancer. Anyhow, I chose ‘conducting’ for my main studies when I was 15 and I have never regretted it.

Conducting took me on an endless journey of an unbelievably wide range of music. I often get questions on whether I compose my own music. Strangely enough, I have never found this exciting. It is much more interesting for me to get into other composer’s musical ideas, to understand the message of their music, to use my fantasy and imagination to become “the composer’s advocate”. Furthermore, I love to inspire and motivate my musicians. A conductor is certainly a visual kind leader. Great conductors are those who share their leading glory with the musicians, those who trust them and immediately invite them to take the limelight. Without the orchestra, the conductor is nothing.

OCA: What is “Eurasianism” for you?
MM: I would like to leave out the geopolitical definition of “Eurasianism”. Everyone knows that Eurasianism as an ideological and philosophical movement originally developed in 1920th. I think many of us read something from Nikolay Trybetzkoy, Georgii Florovsky or Nikolay Berdyaev who were first key leaders of Eurasianism. At least I did.

My personal interest in Eurasia lies firstly in a cultural aspect. I perceive Eurasian as a cradleland for many civilizations. A place where our ethnic routes first met a thousand years ago. Nowadays many of us feel a strong requirement to develop and use multicultural links and integration as a global goal, but not as a political tool. Different cultural and religious heritages have always been a part of my native interest. To meet new people, exchange and support one another’s innovative ideas – what can be better for an artist than that: whether you are a writer, poet, musician, painter, architect or a filmmaker. Together our creative vision for the future is stronger and more fruitful.

OCA: Who are your favorite artists?
MM: This question always makes me feel embarrassed. The reason is that I have never favoured any particular art figure of any time. Even those who I admire greatly. I want to stay culturally open minded and make new “art discoveries” during my life.

OCA: Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)?
MM: I am looking forward to organising the first symphony orchestra performance under the Eurasian Cultural Week in London in October 2019. In March I came with the idea to the president of the Guild and I really hope we will be able to realise it.

Such performance involves lots of preparation which is happening at the moment. I decided to call the concert, “New Eurasian Wave” as my idea is to reveal and present music of composers who are connected to the Eurasian region. Composers from Armenia, Kuwait and Kazakhstan are already on the list of the concert program.

This initiative gave me a brilliant opportunity to present a new young orchestra in London working under the organisation ‘Harmony: Action through the Art’. I believe that together we will create a memorable event for the guests of Eurasian Cultural Week, composers and musicians – as well as everyone else involved. Furthermore, we aim to improve the first concert to a permanent concert program for the future events of ECG.

OCA: What would you wish the members of the Guild, just starting their career?
MM: Find your individual voice and stay in harmony with yourself.