I meet Christophe Rousset in a café that is part of the Strasbourg opera complex; pop music (rap? hip-hop?) issues forth from the speakers; a stark contrast to the subject of our interview, Legrenzi’s opera La Divisione del Mondo. The interview takes place just a couple of hours prior to the last performance at Strasbourg, after which the production moves on to fresh venues.
Pianist and composer Gabriela Montero interviewed by Gregor Tassie
Gabriela Montero’s brilliant music-making and her dazzling freeform arrangements of classical piano works have placed her among the most fascinating musicians in the world today. Her compositions reflect upon the stormy events of recent years in her homeland and her defence of human rights across the globe. Gabriela Montero is the first appointed Amnesty International Honorary Consul for Human Rights. Several of her compositions have won wide-spread praise together with her recordings including her Grammy award for her Ex Patria poem for piano and orchestra. In February 2019 she tours the United Kingdom for a series of concerts from Scotland through to London in which she will play the premiere of her new piece Babel with the award-winning Scottish Ensemble.
THE GREAT CANADIAN ARTISTS: AN INTERVIEW WITH MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN
Pianist Marc-André Hamelin has emerged as one of the marvels of the twenty-first century. Few living pianists can match his transparency of articulation, rhythmic and tonal control and cunning virtuoso strength, and these characteristics are resoundingly illustrated in his recordings and concert performances of a vast range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century repertoire. His early – and indeed enduring – contribution lay in bringing technically-challenging works of lesser known and often forgotten composers to public attention, placing them on the world stage in the best light for others to absorb and study. In recent years, he has applied his interpretative and technical acumen to more mainstream literature with great success.
What do you understand by the word ‘history’? This simple question, but one which will inevitably prompt multifarious and complex responses, was the origin of the title of Richard Causton’s new orchestral work, Ik zeg: NU (which translates from Dutch as ‘I say: NOW’), which was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and will be premiered by the orchestra and their chief conductor Sakari Oramo at the Barbican Hall later this month.
Michael Cookson interviews Ádám Fischer
Sitting in the conductor room at the famous Semperoper, Dresden last May I interviewed conductor Ádám Fischer. In an hour’s time he would be conducting a compelling performance of Beethoven’s Fidelio directed Keith Warner (click here). I couldn’t help but contemplate on the many famous conductors who had been in the room over the years since the Semperoper’s reconstruction in 1985.
Robert Beattie interviews Simon Mechliński
The Wexford Opera Festival is famous for introducing rare, neglected and new works to the public. It also provides a forum for young performers to make their mark on the world. One such performer at this year’s Festival was 25-year-old Polish baritone, Simon Mechliński, who performed in Mercandante’s Il bravo (click here) and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (click here).
Gregor Tassie Interviews Elim Chan
The young Chinese conductor Elim Chan has enjoyed a highly successful career since she won her breakthrough competition at the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition roughly four years ago and which immediately gave her the opportunity of working as an assistant conductor at the London Symphony Orchestra. In London she had the opportunity of being mentored by Valery Gergiev (who invited her to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in St Petersburg), Michael Tilson-Thomas and Sir Antonio Pappano. In 2017 she was appointed chief conductor at Norrlandsoperan in Umea, Sweden, and principal guest conductor at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at the beginning of 2018, she was appointed chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra from the 2019-2020 season. In a short period, Chan has worked with some of the best orchestras worldwide, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
To admirers of great singing Petra Lang needs little introduction because of her superb performances on the world’s leading opera stages and concert platforms. In recent years, especially, she has brought the audiences at the annual Bayreuth Festival to their feet to acclaim her wonderful portrayals of Ortrud (review click here) and Isolde (review click here). Seen and Heard was delighted when Petra Lang agreed to answer our questions to look back – amongst much else – at how she began as a singer, who gave her advice along the way, a singer’s life, her thoughts on the roles she has sung and the colleagues she has worked with, as well as, her own advice for young singers.