Yes, I have come full circle...
It has been thirty years since my intensely happy and inspired times with the European Union Youth Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the unforgettable Claudio Abbado. I left the COE and orchestral playing after only two years as I had a calling that I could not ignore - I decided to forge a career as a soloist, recitalist and teacher. After all this time, I am thrilled to be starting a new adventure which is allowing me to reconnect with the glorious world of orchestral music again - as a conductor - with the soon-to-be-born Pro Youth Philharmonia!
Looking ahead to April 2018 and the first days of rehearsals with PYP, we will immediately set about fusing into a team and cultivating our unique musical identity, sculpted out of multiple inspired moments that will grow us into a flexible, open and emotionally functional ensemble. The inspired energies and attitudes we develop together will nourish every note that is played and every heart that is touched.
These are the building blocks out of which an inspired PYP will emerge:
A Method Called Love
Thirty years of intense solo and chamber music performance and teaching have taught me that the single most potent and essential ingredient for making music (and living life) is LOVE. Not just Love between people and for what we do, but Love for humanity, Love as a discipline and Love as a vehicle for solving problems, as well as overcoming challenges and fears. This Love will shine out of every note, gesture and word in rehearsals and concerts, and will be the core of what unites us into a cohesive musical family, while at the same time motivating each individual among us to reach deep within themselves into their personal truth and potential as human beings and musicians. We will all heal and grow together and, of course, share this contagious energy with all who come in contact with our music in our concerts, as well as the educational outreach programme we are currently developing.
Living in a world that is often dominated by constraints, practicalities, frustrations and compromises, our mission will be to overcome these and to keep a loving heart that never loses its faith and desire in making our world a warmer and more inspired place, and to appreciate the miracle that illuminates each living moment... through our music and what it puts in motion.
The Art of Breathing
The way we breathe individually and collectively within PYP is going to be one of the key facilitators of our musical identity. Whatever our instrument, our breath will be the catalyst that ignites our phrasing as an ensemble, musically and technically.
The arrival of the breath in music and speech is a truly wondrous moment, empowering and lifting everything that is said to a more profound level. For this to happen, however, we need to make SPACE for this breath. These moments between phrases (silences) are highly charged emotional milestones that need to be revealed, rather than hidden. Rushing these moments robs listeners of the opportunity to digest and put in perspective everything they are hearing. In these ‘pregnant’ silences, the thirst for the next phrase is born… and so is its accuracy.
The Rhythms of Life
Rhythm is what moulds sound into recognisable shapes, generating the flows and tensions that characterise the music that we play. Nature's rhythms reveal beautiful patterns shaped out of perpetual evolutions that never repeat themselves exactly... infinitely varied dances that are logical and symmetrical, yet flexible and spontaneous. In PYP we will be seeking a living, breathing, liberating rhythm that will create an organic musical and emotional experience. Our rehearsals and workshop discussions will be geared towards developing the discipline and freedom required for such rhythmic empowerment.
The Power of Silence
Silence is often infinitely more powerful than any sound or word that is uttered; it can be devastating, deafening, inspired or enlightening. Silence is not ‘nothing' - it is the root out of which sound is able to grow... the awakening and emergence of our desire, before it manifests itself physically. Without the underlying silence, music is born premature and without concept. We will explore this phenomenon and incorporate it into our phrasing, to bring out the expressive tension between sound and silence.
Body Language expresses our truth, rather than our pretension. I will be encouraging the refinement of our movements and gestures, developing an authentic physical reflection of our inner emotional and musical impulses, as individuals and as an orchestra. Body language will be harnessed to improve eye contact, optimise and economise movement, arranging the flow of gestures to reach the end of each phrase and refine finger and torso maximise musical and technical accuracy.
Outreach Educational Programme
Very soon after PYP is established, we plan to extend an ambitious Outreach Educational Programme, spearheaded by PYP players, providing opportunities for chamber music, which will further consolidate the musical relationships within our orchestra. We will set to work, inspiring and empowering new generations of musicians and music lovers, outside of the concert hall. Further details will be emerging in the next months.
Rotating Principal Positions
We will be operating a flexible policy of rotating principal positions within PYP. The three front string players within each section will all have the opportunity to lead one complete cycle of rehearsals and tour. Similarly, wind players will have the chance to rotate positions.
As an advanced training orchestra, we will be fostering an understanding of leadership, team-building and collaborative skills, giving PYP members the opportunity to experience performance from different perspectives and approaches. This policy will be under constant review and, as principal conductor, I will reserve the right to oversee and discuss this with individual PYP members on merit, based on the initial auditions and subsequent performance in rehearsals and concerts.
All 65 members will be able to have their own page on this website, displaying their biography, photo and links to their own websites and recordings etc.
Members will also be able to post their articles from time to time, sharing their perspectives on the music we play, inspired musical experiences and other enlightening perspectives. Articles will be submitted for approval before posting.
Good luck with the auditions!
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor