How does it manifest itself?
The stage… Anyone who has set foot on it even once will never forget the uncontrollable agitation that grips a person when they stand before an audience to surprise, delight, stimulate reflection, and even induce euphoria. What is it, this magic of the stage? Is it that artistic endeavor capable of creating values that become facts and phenomena of culture?
Psychologists and sociologists respond with long-winded, rote explanations. And if you ask those who cannot imagine their life without the stage, without those stellar moments transporting them into another dimension and another, unearthly world that plunges them into inexplicably sublime and incredible states they will need over and over and again, what is it? Is it mystical? An ethereal flight of spirit or a magic that does not come to just any mortal who is capable of melding with higher energies and revealing their power to those who are energetically ready to connect to this channel, to accept and appreciate this intricate entanglement of spirit, mind and all that defies all description.
Concert pianist Samir Mirzoev, Associate Professor at the Baku Music Academy named after U. Hajibeyli and Akdeniz University (Turkey), one of the founders of the piano department, PhD in Art History, winner of international competitions, has performed in more than 20 countries. He has authored three books and numerous articles in six languages and tutorials on contemporary music at Akdeniz University. Samir’s pen is finely honed, not devoid of subtle humor, and he was once a very successful contributor to one of the Azerbaijani websites. One of the most brilliant pages in his artistic biography is his work as one of the founders and soloists of the SoNoR contemporary music ensemble, an unforgettable phenomenon in the musical life of Azerbaijan. Samir gives an interesting philosophical interpretation of this phenomenon. He believes it to be mystical.
Well, Samir, let’s start: what is the Stage and a Person of Stage?
Someone who cannot live without the stage, where they must express what they have gleaned: for musicians, these are interpretations. In other words, it is a narrator, a storyteller, and not of what they present—because simply performing a composition is a retelling—but rather sharing their hidden message and communicating it to the audience. I think these messages come to them from outside and through them go out into society. In this respect, a person of stage is, in a way, a medium. I am inclined to think that these messages are not figments of the imagination, but the result of the transmission of some information through selected mediums to the people. Messages of a global nature come through great interpreters, artists, depending on their energy base. They may be speakers who can lead the masses, either in a positive way or in a negative way, in a word, transmitters. Not every performing student or artist can be a person of stage, and today, as an educator, I see who among my students can become an interpreter and a storyteller.
Usually by the mystical we mean something unusual, something that does not lend itself to logical or scientific explanation. What do you mean when you talk about the mystical, and isn’t it Magic?
It can also be magic, it’s just that the word itself is overused today and has lost its sacred meaning, becoming almost mundane. And the concept of the mystical encompasses a more comprehensive areal that we have not been able to tame and understand fully, although we are able to participate in it. Stage magic is a more down-to-earth concept, not devoid of meretriciousness.
Does it mean that the mystique of the stage is the same for all performers and speakers, be it an actor, a musician or a dancer?
Definitely! It is a person who realizes and embodies their global mission on stage. For example, the incredible dancer Makhmud Esambayev, who transformed himself on stage beyond recognition, revealing something mystical and mesmerizing. Or speakers who can lead thousands of people. The ability to tap into the higher communication channels of the universe is inherent in selected personalities with strong energy and incredible intuition.
And in what ways is the stage different for different people of stage?
I think the stage has four features that I would like to highlight. The first aspect is psycho-physiological and its effect on the person. A person who has been on stage for a long time, being ill, but getting ready to go out there and putting on a stage costume, does not notice, or rather, even forgets about their illness, which recedes for the time they are on stage. They become immersed in their creative purpose, give their creative energy away and get feedback, and even their stage costume, accumulating positive energy, participates in this energy exchange.
The second aspect is temporal, when the flow of time changes on stage; it speeds up or slows down, but it is not the same time that flows outside of the stage. Real time resumes immediately after the performance or concert ends, because the person on stage is in another temporal dimension. This is not always the case, but it happens often.
The third aspect is bio-energetic, because the stage in its current sense as a phenomenon appeared relatively recently, several centuries ago, although before that there was an arena with other distinctive nuances. Shamans, magicians, diviners, speakers, leaders of peoples, warriors, i.e. people, whose opinion was heeded, believed and obeyed. For a long time, the stage existed in this capacity, becoming one of the subsections of the energy-information field, and the people who were there gave their energy, creating an energy-information repository around the world. These were energetically strong people, capable of charging others. Then came the ancient theater, then the modern stage, but the very notion of an energy storehouse has not changed over time. The person on stage kind of connects to this repository, feeds off it, and gives their energy to it.
So, only energetically strong individuals are capable of such an energy exchange?
The energy-information field does not let just anyone in and does not come into contact with just anyone, it chooses its adepts, who are able to broadcast from the stage and give their artistic interpretation. This is a kind of trance, which in ancient times shamans, magicians and priests entered, connecting to the repository, and only then giving their reading of the rituals and ceremonies. In modern art the performer also has to go into a kind of trance, hence the change of real time, change of psycho-physiological state, etc.
The fourth aspect: I would describe the stage as a kind of mystical phenomenon, which also takes place, of course, much less frequently. In ancient times mages, before beginning their séance, would draw a circle around themselves, an arena, where they would go into a trance. This arena and circle are the prototype of the modern stage, which ends at the edge of the stage and the beginning of the backstage, beyond which the person returns to their circle. Ancient lore often mentions this circle, beyond which another life begins. Sometimes the accumulated positive or negative energy gives out its emanations, and we know that stages of some theaters or halls have their abnormal phenomena that defy logical explanation. I think they are the creative emanations that make themselves known.
And how do you explain stage fright and uncontrollable agitation?
I think stage fright happens to those who are not let in by the energy-information field, though they can perform in a narrow circle, but they have a panic fear on stage. The magical energy accumulated over the centuries, seeing an adept, helps them, feeds and gives the interpreter power to broadcast their information, and then people believe them. If one is not let into the energetic areal, their performance is quickly forgotten, the audience does not believe it, and such people are more interested in whether there were many people in the audience, whether those they had invited came, and so on. These people are ordinary artists who have learned their role, they do not make real art, but they are good craftspeople, and I think they do not get the energy boost of the stage. More often than not, they criticize those who are beyond their understanding. A real artist, a broadcaster, does not really care how many people are in the audience, they just do their job and broadcast, sharing the information they receive. This makes them happy; this is how they live, because they have fulfilled their mission. This is my subjective opinion.
As a concert musician you probably go into such states when you go on stage and while you are on stage. A real person of stage cannot live without that space where they cannot help entering the same trance or energy-information field created by the stage itself together with that repository, and in tandem with the person of stage themselves. I think that only this kind of tandem gives such nourishment, and only in this case, dissolving in this field, a person of stage is able to generate new ideas and say something, i.e. to broadcast. They may not even notice if the audience is full or only several people are sitting there, it is not important for them, because the main thing is an atmosphere charged with energy that is born on the stage and fuels them so much that they are able to fuel the audience. Here, of course, the depth of creative individuality of the person of stage, their ability to connect to the higher energy channels of the universe play a part, wouldn’t you agree?
Absolutely! May the light be with you, including the stage light!
We are joined by a musician and teacher with half a century of experience, one of the organizers of the prestigious International Competition for Young Pianists in Memory of Vladimir Horowitz, Vice Rector for Foreign Relations of Glier Kyiv Institute of Music, Honored Worker of Culture of Ukraine Anna Smekhova, who has for some time been hosting an original online show Four Seasons of the Year, where she invites famous musicians and artists to discuss interesting topics and events. We were very happy to know that one of the guests of Anna Smekhova’s chat show was an Azerbaijani pianist working in Turkey, who shared with the audience his thoughts about the mystique of the stage. We could not deny ourselves the pleasure of hearing Anna Smekhova’s experienced and reputable musician’s opinion on such an unorthodox topic.
What prompted you to create an interesting original chat show that stands out for its relaxed atmosphere of congeniality, interest in the subject, and love of music and musicians, and what are your criteria for choosing your guests?
I have been very lucky in my life, because I have met and continue to meet a lot of interesting people. Perhaps it has to do with my profession as a musician, because I am an internationalist at heart and have worked at international competitions for many years. These are diplomats, entrepreneurs, musicians, restaurateurs, directors, doctors, managers, and others. I wrote a book of memories of my teacher, and after that the idea came to me to write a book about interesting people I have met on my life path. For a long and painful time, I was struggling with the idea, and then, when the pandemic hit, there were so many bloggers on the Internet who mostly posted tutorials for making stuffed cabbage rolls or baking pies. That is when it hit me: why don’t I write a living book? And from that point on, I decided to give it a try. I started inviting people I knew or strangers I was interested in as individuals to my online living room. However, it was not easy to start doing my first interview, so I decided to ask my friend Samir Mirzoev for help. He is an amazingly charismatic, larger-than-life, interesting person who stepped into the YouTube space with me like into the outer space. Fortunately, my audience was interested in my vis-a-vis, I received a lot of nice feedback, although today the war in Ukraine gets in the way and people are busy surviving, but I think that all will be well, and my living book will be replenished.
What are your thoughts on Samir Mirzoev’s philosophical reflections, in particular on the mystique of the stage? Do you agree with this phrase, has this mystical state visited you during a performance?
I currently teach my original course “From Pedagogy to Management in Music”, and the subject of the stage came up, because it really is a magical space. My invited guests voiced their experiences and thoughts about the stage, and here I completely agree with Samir. These were concert musicians with extensive stage experience, and all of them shared what they felt on stage. However, no one touched on the idea of the mystical. He went very deep in his reflections, but I personally have not dealt with the mystical on stage, and I do not have much concert experience, but I have firsthand knowledge of stage magic and I have caught that myself, I have felt the buzz of performing. It is a kind of a mystical state as well, because it comes to a person on stage absolutely unplanned, spontaneously, as if it falls out of the cosmos. It is like an explosion of energy from inside, so that smoke goes flying into the audience! If this moment comes to a musician, it is a great fortune, a testament to their talent and God-given gift. Yes, this has happened to me a few times in my life and it is an indescribable sensation! It is a wave that takes you like a whirlwind and takes you up into the stratosphere, and in general, I agree with Samir’s interesting speculations!
Thank you for joining us. I wish your book a life and creative longevity!
Translated from Bakinskiy Rabochiy