Preview: Halle Orchestra/Elder, St Paul's Cathedral, London
Monday 23 June 2008
Is conducting an orchestra a physically tiring occupation? The conductor Mark Elder, 61, who was knighted in the 2008 Queen's birthday honours list and who is in charge of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, is to conduct a concert at St Paul's Cathedral, as part of the City of London Festival.
The concert of works, each one the last by a German master-composer, includes Brahms's "Four Serious Songs" sung by baritone Johan Reuter, two sections of Wagner's opera Parsifal and Richard Strauss's "Four Last Songs", sung by Irish soprano Orla Boylan.
"The experience of conducting is always about getting the balance between your head and your heart," says Elder.
"People often ask, 'are you tired?', at the end. It is the concentration that is tiring. What I do physically I am not so conscious of. I have been doing it for such a long time. It just all comes from inside, but of course how physical the experience is depends enormously on the nature of the music.
"When I conducted Parsifal, which is a very long opera, I did the whole evening in one shirt. You don't break sweat generally in Wagner, but when you are conducting Italian music, it's much more of a visceral and athletic experience. The music is like a coiled spring and the conductor has to energise it moment by moment. When you are conducting German music your role is slightly different: it is to be a calm centre in the middle of the complexity of music."
Elder, a protégé of Sir Edward Downes, was formerly music director of English National Opera and a principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
What are the challenges of doing concerts in St Paul's Cathedral? "I have put together a shortish programme because you don't want it too long – it gets cold and there are no public loos," says Elder. "In a resonant, ecclesiastical building you are on a hiding to nothing. The acoustic tends to swamp the detail of the music."
Tomorrow, 8pm (020-7638 8891)
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Presidential optical illusion offers clues to how brain processes faces
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him Wembley Stadium tickets after that rant
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Costa Book Awards 2015: H is for Hawk named book of the year
Run DMC's Darryl McDaniels: 'Kendrick Lamar is killing it, but radios are too afraid to play him'
Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes