As director of the Slovenian Philharmonic for over a decade, Damjan Damjanovič certainly is a busy man. With a brief foray into local politics, as well as a history that includes a stint as a judge on the Slovenian version of X Factor, the charge of lethargy isn't one that can be aimed at him. Luckily for him, Mr Damjanovič was able to take some time out of his schedule to answer a few of our questions.
First of all, congratulations on 10 years as director of the Slovenian Philharmonic. When you took on the position did you believe you’d still be in the role a decade later?
Thanks for the congratulations. I think everyone who takes on a leadership role, is aware that it’s always a possibility that circumstances can change. At the same time, it’s entirely normal and accepted that good results are impossible to obtain overnight and it takes time to achieve them. I'm happy and proud that I have led the institution for over 10 years already and that during this time we have achieved quite a few significant results
What have been the biggest changes in those 10 years? What do you personally consider the biggest successes? Any disappointments?
Certainly one of the most significant changes compared to the past has been the role of the orchestra's chief conductor. We had some bigger tours to Switzerland, Japan, German and most recently with Anna Netrebko around Europe. A few things, above all that because of a lack of understanding about the social and economic conditions we lost quite a bit of our advantage over other competitors.
Are there any forthcoming events that you are particularly looking forward to?
I look forward to every new season as well as all the other events which we present. I'm especially looking forward to the concert on the 25th of September. We are preparing a benefit concert for the floods in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. The initiative for this concert came from a number of employees [of the philharmonic] and other musicians in Slovenia. The concert will bring together artists from all three countries and Slovenia.
In 2012 you participated as a judge on Slovenia’s version of the international hit reality show X-Factor. How did this position come about? How was the entire experience? Shows such as this dominate television in Britain and other parts of the world, how was the reception here in Slovenia?
Happenstance led to my participation on this show as a jury member. The experience was unique. I can safely say that it was very influential on my personality as well as for my personal growth. Everything you experience cannot be described in a few sentences, I could write a book. Also in Slovenia the viewership was extremely high, which also had a very big impact on my public visibility.
So director of the Slovenian philharmonic as well as judge on international pop singer reality show. What about your own personal music taste? Does your day job or X Factor experience inform this, or do your own musical preferences go in a completely different direction? Orchestras at work, metal at home?
I listen to different music styles, it depends on the moment and the mood. I distinguish between music only as good and bad, or else, I like it or not. At work I have an office above the hall where the orchestra rehearses, so I have everything under control. Hahahaha. Otherwise, when I'm working I prefer something more ambient and smooth jazz music that keeps me focused, you know if I listen to classical music it entrances me and then I can't focus on work.
You have a very busy schedule, but what do you enjoy doing in your free time? Do you have any favourite restaurants or cafes in Ljubljana? How about sights?
In my free time I socialize with friends, ride a motorcycle or visit friends who have horses.
I have my favourite restaurant and my little local. I am proud to say that I have an office in one of what I consider the biggest attractions, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, whose building was listed as a cultural monument some years ago.
Many thanks for your time!
The Slovenian Philharmonic has an ever-evolving schedule of internationally respected artists, as well being housed in one of the finest buildings in town. Head to Kongresni trg to see (and hear) more.