Interview with Andris Nelsons
“The energy of an orchestra can be a great source of inspiration [...]
Young Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, ranks among the leading exponents of his art. Talking to THE FOCUS, this internationally celebrated rising star explains about orchestral psychology, what it takes to make a masterful performance, and nature of his role on the podium.
The Focus: One of the most fascinating aspects of your work must surely be the challenge of coordinating the output of one hundred musicians. How do you work with them as a team?
Andris Nelsons: For the conductor the most important thing during the rehearsal process is the quality of the contact with the performers. In opera this is very complicated, because you have to work with orchestra, chorus and soloists, which can mean more than 200 people. You need to set the atmosphere and try to combine the strong individual talents of the various artists to arrive at an integral performance.
The Focus: How exactly do you communicate your ideas about a work?
Nelsons: You have to try – with your face, your hands and your personality – to express what’s behind the notes. That’s the most important thing. To support people you also sometimes have to explain many things. But in this respect you have to be careful. You shouldn’t talk too much. Once people get used to you, they stop paying attention if you always say the same thing. But then, every conductor is different and adopts a different approach.
The Focus: Do some of the players or singers try to dominate the others?
Nelsons: There are people who try to upstage others. As a conductor you’re the unifying force that combines the ideas of the different artists. If you succeed, then there is a great explosion of artistic power.
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