MSO Education Week

Orchestras around the world are increasing their activities in the field of education and community outreach. Whereas in the past such concerts were viewed as an addendum to the regular series concerts of the orchestra, in recent times they have become an integrated and important part of the business model of a modern orchestra. Every orchestra wants to connect closely with its home community and to develop an interest in orchestral music especially amongst young people. Education is now core business for most well resourced orchestras and I’m happy to say that the MSO has a terrific annual program which we are very proud of. The highlight of this program is Education Week which, in spite of the rather ominous sounding title, attracts over 10,000 people to concerts at the Melbourne Town Hall each year since its inception in 2011. The MSO splits into multiple ensembles during this week and offer concerts and activities for all ages. It’s a totally mad week for us all (I conduct ten concerts!), but ultimately incredibly rewarding. In the past education concerts have been shunned by some conductors who see them as detracting from their “serious” image. Those days are now gone. Conductors across…

July 15, 2013

Week 2: ANAM Orchestra, May 20-24

Having landed from Hong Kong at 8am Monday morning, I had time to taxi home and spend a few hours with my family before heading to ANAM in South Melbourne for the first rehearsal of the Lutosławski Cello Concerto. The Artistic Director of ANAM is Paul Dean, a clarinetist and composer of the highest order, and also one of the greatest people in the business despite stubbornly supporting the Brisbane Lions. Paul had approached me late last year about this concert and mentioned the Lutosławski concerto. The soloist was to be the brilliant Johannes Moser who is lighting up concert stages around the globe. Needless to say I jumped at the chance. The concerto is notorious for being one of the hardest to conduct (let alone play) given the aleatoric construction, with many elements left to chance, and its fiendish rhythmic complexity. I remember colleagues of mine at the Sibelius Academy lamenting having come to grief on this work, so I was certainly keen to make sure I was as well prepared as possible. I purchased a copy of the score and began my study process. I was very fortunate to meet the British conductor Ed Gardner in New York…

June 24, 2013

Week 1: Hong Kong Philharmonic, May 14-19

I was really looking forward to returning to the Hong Kong Philharmonic after last working with them in 2011. It’s such a fascinating place to travel to, so full of energy and the orchestra and I get on very well. This visit was no exception as the concerts featured the talents of Australian icon and all-round genius James Morrison. He isn’t perhaps as well known in Hong Kong as in other places around the globe (when I was living in Salzburg he was often the first Australian mentioned in conversation with other musicians) although the brass section all knew of him and were excited to work with him. James and I have shared the stage many times and I am always inspired by his extraordinary musicianship and positive attitude to life. Apart from his mind-boggling ability to play so many different instruments equally well – his soprano sax playing for example is outstanding – he is also very active in the community, particularly in Queensland where he runs the Queensland Music Festival. During a previous visit to London a supporter of mine had bought me two really high quality fabrics from Saville Row to be made into suits. They had…Continue…

June 13, 2013