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Series of concerts breathes life back into musical world

Perpetual Music

Spearheaded by Rolex Testimonees, the “Perpetual Music” initiative not only entertains a global audience, it also provides artists the opportunity to do what they love most – perform and share their gift.

If 2020 proved one thing, it was that the need for music in people’s lives goes well beyond its capacity to divert and distract. As the acclaimed Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva put it: “Culture is as essential to life as the food we eat or the air we breathe. Politicians class opera as entertainment and no longer as something essential – but art is vital.”
Perpetual music

Revitalizing the music world

Yoncheva, alongside the world-famous tenors Juan Diego Flórez and Rolando Villazón, and the violinist Renaud Capuçon, were the artists given carte blanche by Rolex to design three “Perpetual Music” concerts that lifted the gloom and revived the musical world.

In 2020, the “Perpetual Music” initiative served several purposes.

The three concerts, held between August 21 and September 3, at the Teatro Rossini, in Pesaro; the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, in Berlin; and at the Palais Garnier of the Opéra national in Paris, and streamed internationally, gave a worldwide audience an opportunity to enjoy music-making of the highest calibre at a time when most concert stages across the globe were empty.

In asking their star soloists to recruit musicians of their choice to perform at the concerts, Rolex also offered a hand of support to more than 100 artists, singers and musicians who had been struggling to survive. As Villazón said in his introduction to his concert (co-curated with Capuçon) at the Garnier: “There are a lot of singers, a lot of musicians, who find themselves without work, and, actually, many of them are looking for other jobs to bring food to their table, not jobs that their vocation is about.”

Perpetual music

Championing the arts

He stressed that the support was not only financial; it was giving artists a chance to do what they love, which is to be on a stage and perform for an audience. It was no surprise that Rolex had offered a helping hand to the arts at a time of difficulty because Rolex has a long tradition of championing the arts, most notably via its Mentor and Protégé programme that pairs an aspiring artist with an established figure in their field. “Rolex believes in quality and it believes in things that stay with us, and classical music is something that stays with us,” Villazón said. “Rolex puts its heart and soul into backing innovative artistic projects.” Capuçon also emphasized that “the idea of getting together to help young musicians in this very difficult period” was the driving force behind his involvement.

The Paris concert had an eclectic repertoire, from the baroque of Monteverdi to Bach’s solo Cello Suite No 1 in G Major, to Richard Strauss’s Morgen and even George Gershwin’s Summertime. For his concert in Pesaro, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, Flórez concentrated on the works of local boy Rossini, who was born there in 1792. He personally invited a selection of artists who were Rossini specialists, and whom he had either sung with before or met in masterclasses. “The concert was a real means of support for them in this period of Covid-19 when artists were deprived of their audiences and their incomes,” he said. “When Rolex contacted me with their proposal, I immediately thought it was a fabulous idea.”

Perpetual music

Elevating our lives

Like Villazón and Flórez, Yoncheva is a Rolex Testimonee, and she was equally enthusiastic about the project. Her recital in Berlin showcased 14 singers and instrumentalists in a programme of intimate chamber music that included Handel, Schubert and Bartók. She chose music that she felt would nourish the soul. “We cannot stay at home: we must find ways to keep living our lives,” she said. “I attached great importance to my cooperation with Rolex in organizing the ‘Perpetual Music’ galas. We are enabling artists to come back on stage.”

The concerts were performed to small audiences and then made available digitally until the end of the year to hundreds of thousands of people in more than 180 countries through the free streaming service

For all the artists, the performances were not only a pleasure in themselves, but a chance to reconnect with audiences from whom they had been separated in the strange times of exile from the stage that 2020 brought. By allowing them to sing with an orchestra and perform, finding the full range of their artistry, the “Perpetual Music” concerts of 2020 helped emphasize the way that music is not only an essential element in our daily lives – but a means of elevating and improving it.

Perpetuating Culture