Q&A with Martin Rummel

Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Photo of Ensemble Paladino

Most great things are created or come into being because of necessity. The need to present uncompromising, diverse and fearless chamber music on the highest level is what sparked the creation of Ensemble Paladino, according to Martin Rummel, the cellist and founder of the ensemble.


From Vienna to the other side of the world – what was the appeal of joining the faculty in Auckland?

Mainly the challenge of being responsible for the School of Music’s development for a few years, especially with the advantage of knowing it through my earlier teaching position here. The sheer beauty of the New Zealand nature. The appeal of less traveling than the last decade.


What’s the best advice you have ever received or the one you gave to your students?

Two sentences from my teacher, William Pleeth (who also taught Jacqueline du PrĂ©): “Being a cellist is not a profession, it is a lifestyle!” and “Miss it – but miss it beautifully!”


You recorded a series of online cello lessons that can be found on Vienna Virtuoso’s YouTube Channel. In your opinion, what’s the role of online courses in music teaching nowadays, and could they replace real life lessons?

I do not believe that online lessons can replace face-to-face contact, but I am convinced that they are a fabulous supplementary tool. On one side, they give students access to internationally acclaimed people who they would otherwise probably not be able to meet, and on the other side it is possible to re-watch technical advice, practice methods and other information that might get lost in a face-to-face lesson. I think that ultimately a combination of recorded and live tuition will be what benefits students most.


As they say you have many strings to your bow. One is Paladino Media, a recording label. We have often heard it exclaimed that the recording industry is dead (shortly after it killed live performance). What changes does a musical media company need to embrace to grow in the 21st century?

Paladino media is the umbrella company for four record labels (the latest addition being the contemporary music label KAIROS in 2015), a publishing house and a local distribution branch. We are now one of Europe’s most diversified music businesses, and I think that this diversification makes it sustainable. Strangely enough, while the repertoire that is played in concerts gets smaller and smaller to being reduced to the handful “famous” composers, more and more music gets recorded. The challenge for any musician (and the recording industry) will be to get this discrepancy back into sync by being brave enough to program something other than Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms.


As well as mostly a programme of music written in the Classical and Baroque periods you will be commissioning a work from Auckland based composer Leonie Holmes. What can you tell us about this?

With harpsichord having been the first instrument I learnt to play when I was a child (my mother’s music teacher was Harnoncourt’s harpsichordist), and Eric getting increasingly interested in playing period flutes, the idea to commission a contemporary work for a “historic” instrument seemed logic. I have heard fabulous new music for so-called historic instruments, and we both find that this is a genre that should be explored much more.


Ensemble Paladino’s approach has been described as “democratic” and “organic”. What does this mean?

Our programming and project planning is not run by a central office, but by the players. As a consequence, all decisions are being made in a constant dialogue. The core members choose extras for certain projects together, to ensure that the rehearsal process runs smoothly. We never choose anyone who the majority of the project do not know personally. This is a certain guarantee that we get on and have a good time preparing for and performing or recording a project.


Eric Lamb and you are partners both in life and work – how do you find a balance?

We share a lot of musical ideals and values, and naturally we discuss a lot of musical issues in our daily life. We also share the fact that we enjoy nearly all aspects of our professional lives, which means that we do not need to “shut the door to the office” at 6pm. However, before we tried playing together five years ago, we decided that if it did not work within the first two minutes, we would never try again and just leave that bit out. It worked: We are still playing.



Ensemble Paladino

Touring NZ 2-19 April