This week on NMC Archive, Darragh Morgan tells us about the advantages of working with living composers.
Whilst rehearsing, musicians often comment ‘wouldn't it be great if we could call up Beethoven and ask him about tempo indication or question him about an unusual expressive marking or articulation we aren't quite sure about’. Of course this isn't possible, but now is our chance to talk and have ongoing dialogue with living composers, often whilst working with them on their new repertoire. I've had so much insight into new music by just listening to what composers have to say, describing their own music and how they see it. My own library of sheet music is full of little inscription quotes from these rehearsal sessions, many of which I forget until I return (often years later) to again perform the same music. These gems of information have a huge impact on my interpretations, direct from the composers’ thoughts - which only add to the initially developing musical perspective of performers.
Personal highlights from these insights into new music include playing Sei Capricci to Salvatore Sciarrino back stage hours before giving the premiere of his opera Macbeth at Festival d'Automne Paris, standing on stage at the National Concert Hall Dublin chatting with Arvo Part after rehearsing his transcendental Tabula Rasa for a performance at the RTE Living Music Festival, or recently viewing some of the 'primordial' commentary from John Tavener to me in the solo violin part, preparing for the premiere of his epic Hymn of Dawn. Every time I meet with a living composer, whose sincere artistic vision is to create something unique and lasting, it is a great opportunity to collaborate and continue to share their musical message – to help convey their musical voice often long after they have left us.
All their illuminating remarks help shape my interpretations of new repertoire, particularly my work as violinist with The Fidelio Trio. We have just completed a run of performances of Mark Bowden's beautiful Airs No Oceans Keep piano trio. It was fantastic to have time to explore in detail this evocative music closely with Mark in rehearsal and performances. All these different concert experiences and Mark’s thoughts (e.g. about a sea shanty underlying one section) helped shape our interpretation that has the seal of approval from the composer.
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