British conductor Simon Robinson on Slovenian identity

Simon Robinson is a renowned conductor from Liverpool, who has been living and working in Slovenia since the late 1970s. After graduating in music from the Surrey University in the summer of 1978, he conducted at a festival of Armenian music in London, where he was discovered by representatives of the Maribor Opera in Slovenia and was offered a job as assistant conductor and pianist. In October 1978, he arrived in Maribor.

Mr Robinson came to our studio and we started off by asking him what the Slovenes and the British have in common and where he feels the differences the most:

"It's difficult to define the differences, the differences are absolutely rooted in very simple things, I won't go as far as to say as the things that we eat and drink or the weather. Probably a lot has to do with geography, really. I think the similarities are related to a feeling of belonging and if it's anything dissimilar it's possibly the only fact that people on the British Isles live on an island and they haven't had to fight so hard for their borders or identity. I think Slovenians probably still subconsciously have to fight very hard for their identities."

Can you feel that also at work? Is there a difference working with Slovene artists and let's say British artists?

"I think every artist wherever they work they are forced or they are subconsciously aware that they are constantly having to prove themselves - that's nothing to do with place or time - in that respect it's the same. I think we all, rather like sports people, have the same aim in mind, here the barriers are absolutely down."

Talking about Slovene identity, being also defined by Slovene composers, artists, you are very fond of Slovene composers.

"Obviously, it was a great honour to be introduced to so many different creative people in such a short time and the energy and ingenuity of the Slovene artists is a really wonderful thing. Why? Because again, sorry it's back to numbers, there is so much creative energy in such a small place here. I think it has probably to do with it's being a crossroads, a crossroads of many different ideas."