Interview with Michael Petrov

Posted on: April 15, 2015 in: Programmes>2016-17 Season>ÉMIGRÉ, Concert Focus

Ahead of our upcoming concert, From Hollywood to New York on 2 May, we caught up with YCAT artist, Michael Petrov before his performance of Dvořák’s iconic Cello Concerto in B minor. Talking about his journey to the UK from his native Bulgaria, he reflects on the reasoning behind choosing the cello as an instrument and most treasured moments in his career. 

We understand that you were born and brought up in Bulgaria – what brought you to the UK?

It was music that really brought me to the UK. Having been born in Bulgaria, I first came to England when I was 10 for a year to study at the specialist music school, Purcell School. Although the teaching was fantastic, I felt too young to be in a different country and was alienated by the culture so quite quickly moved back to Bulgaria. Then, at the age of 15, I went to study at the Yehudi Menuhin school under Thomas Carroll. It was Thomas who actually arranged the whole thing: we met at a masterclass in Bulgaria and he told me about the school.

I did four years at the Menuhin school – it was both a strange and wonderful experience. It was a boarding school which, for me, is a very British thing. It was also very small (only 60 students in total) but I learnt a lot there.

I have been in the country ever since, and have, for the last six years, been at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying under Louise Hopkins.

What is it about the cello that made you choose that instrument to play?

At the age of 6, I auditioned to a music school in Sofia, Bulgaria on the piano, but apparently in this audition I completely froze and couldn’t play a note! The policy then was, if you didn’t play the piano, you could choose either the violin or cello. Being 6, I thought that violin was for girls, and so my love for the cello began!

What has been your most treasured moment in your career so far?

I try to focus on the next thing and don’t tend to ponder on previous successes, particularly because we get judged for our next gig not previous ones. However, the biggest influence and most important aspect so far of my career has got to be studying with Louise. It feels like I have finally made a match which works on every level, not only artistically but also in terms of the pace I need.

Michael Petrov (C) Kaupo Kikkas

What would your three desert island discs be and why?

The great cellist, Daniil Shafran, would probably have to take up all three slots! I am quite fanatic about him. If I could take my cello to the island that we would be preferable – along with three sets of strings!

If you were to be in any other career, what would it be?

I would say sports journalism or something involving football statistics. To say I am an avid football fan would be under-estimating!

You perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with us on 1 May – what made you choose this piece and what can our audiences expect from your performance?

As a cellist, we don’t have that much choice: we have probably 10 mainstream repertoire concertos to choose from and Dvořák’s one in B minor is not only one of the most iconic but also my favourite. It is one of the few pieces that I think is completely perfect from beginning to end. In terms of what audiences can expect… I would say ‘nothing held back’.

Michael Petrov appears on BBC Radio 3 In Tune on Thursday 30 April 2015 and performs Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor with City of London Sinfonia on Saturday 2 May 2015, 7.30pm at Cadogan Hall. 

From Hollywood to New York
Saturday 2 May 2015, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, London
Tickets from £12 (concessions available)
£5 tickets available for students and 16-25s (pre-register at Cadogan Hall Box Office / 020 7730 4500