30 Jul 2019

What to do when your bow breaks mid-performance

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 30 July 2019

Russian cellist Lev Sivkov was mid-performance when his bow – worth approximately $NZD 12,000 – accidentally collided with conductor Benjamin Northey.

“It made a nice pirouette. Aesthetically it was beautiful!” he laughs. “It went up, then down [and crashed] at high speed. It broke right away.

“The eyes of the first row. My eyes! [I thought] ‘how beautiful’. Then ‘Oh my goodness, what just happened?’!”

But the consummate professional didn’t let a broken bow end his moving performance of Elgar’s cello concerto on Saturday night with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Cellist Lev Sivkov

Cellist Lev Sivkov Photo: Supplied

Benjamin Northey

Benjamin Northey Photo: Matt Irwin

The performance came to a halt while Lev Sivkov quickly rushed off to find a replacement bow. Fortunately, he had a spare in his case. He tightened the hairs of the bow and it “worked out fine”.

On his return to the stage the Christchurch crowd gave him a big cheer.

Lev was able to get straight back into the piece. He says although the experience was “quite tough”, he was able to get his attention back in the right spot in the music.

“It was such a fantastic performance for me,” he says. “Elgar’s music… it’s emotional. Sometimes you think Elgar’s music is too cold, but you should dig deeper and grab the emotion out of him and transfer it to the audience.”

RNZ Concert is broadcasting this performance, which includes the world premiere of Gareth Farr’s The Roar Of A Thousand Tigers, dedicated to Sir Edmund Hillary, from 8pm on Thursday 1 August.

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra at the Christchurch Town Hall

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra at the Christchurch Town Hall Photo: Duncan Shaw-Brown

Lev Sivkov continues his tour of New Zealand for the next few weeks. This week he’s performing with Orchestra Wellington on Friday, next week he performs a recital of cello solo pieces, before heading to Auckland, Greytown and Waikanae to perform in a trio with Sarah Watkins and Andrew Beer.