This article was first published in ANAM’s Music Makers Newspaper v27.
Internationally acclaimed conductor Simone Young AM has a long-standing relationship with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). “I think it’s a wonderful institution,” she says, “…absolutely fulfilling its role which is to make it possible for elite Australian instrumentalists to complete their training in this country.”
Young returns this year for the ANAM Orchestra’s performance at Melbourne Recital Centre on Sunday 19 August. Young continues her Brahms cycle with ANAM, conducting his Third Symphony as well as Rihm’s Ernster Gesang and Strauss’ Metamorphosen. Read on to hear what ANAM musicians are most looking forward to about Young’s 2018 ANAM visit.
My first experience working with Simone Young was the ANAM/Australian World Orchestra Turangalîla-Symphonie program last year. I approached her and asked her if she had any tips for an aspiring young female conductor. She was more than happy to chat to me, and we went and had a coffee and talked about life and conducting. She was an absolute wealth of knowledge, and I was so pleased to have had that opportunity to talk with such an amazing role model.
Fast forward to the release of the ANAM 2018 program – Simone's returning, and she's conducting the very piece I'm doing my thesis on, Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen! I immediately began planning how I would use this opportunity, and I am super excited that it's now coming to pass. It was so helpful getting general advice from Simone last year, and now I can't wait to see what specific thoughts she can pass on for both my thesis and my own performance conducting this piece next year. It's an incredible opportunity to see an absolute master at work, and I feel very privileged to be involved in this project.
Our concert under Simone Young is an event I am truly excited for. I am delighted to be leading the cello section for Wolfgang Rihm’s Ernster Gesang. It is a piece that explores the timbral possibilities of the orchestra in an evocative way, combining Schoenberg’s conceptualisation of ‘tone colour melody’ with an easily digested harmonic language. The absence of violins in the orchestration allows the lower strings to speak openly and enjoy some time in the spotlight. Brahms’ Third Symphony is a cornerstone of the repertory, and performing it for the first time with Simone Young and ANAM is something I will no doubt cherish for the rest of my playing life.
Strauss’ Metamorphosen is one of his most introspective and cathartic compositions. Its elegiac quality stirs the listener and creates such a response that reminds us of our innate state of being human. For me, it is always emotionally exhausting performing or listening to Metamorphosen. Its stirring harmonic complexity coupled with heartfelt pathos always ignites a humane response. With the prowess of Simone Young at the helm and surrounded by my close friends and colleagues, I’m extremely eager to immerse myself in the deeply rich sound world we will create. The impact of such a performance will no doubt leave us emotionally drained yet enriched.
Having heard such glowing reviews of her musicianship and artistic passion, I am very excited to play under the leadership of Simone Young, especially since this will be the first time I will have worked with her. The Third Symphony in F major by Johannes Brahms is a work I’ve heard numerous times but never performed with an orchestra. For me, the Symphony transfixes everyone in the concert hall from the potent sonority of the very first chord and entrances with the bittersweet melody of the third movement. I’m sure it will be an interesting process switching from an audience seat to a seat within the orchestra. It will mean getting to know, quite intimately, the many layers of the music and its emotional depth, while creating a similarly visceral experience from the first time I ever heard it performed. This is just one of the reasons why I’m eagerly anticipating the week with Simone Young. It will be a very creative and reflective process and, above all, an utterly inspiring one as well.
I am very excited for Simone Young’s August project with ANAM. I was lucky enough to play in an orchestra under her once before in 2014, and she has easily remained one of my favourite conductors since then. Her authoritative presence on the podium has the unique ability to keep the orchestra on full alert, ready to respond to her every momentary impulse in the heat of performance. This, combined with exciting musical ideas, is a recipe for an engaging concert, and ANAM’s performance of Strauss, Rihm and Brahms is sure to be another such occasion.
Don't miss Simone Young Conducts Brahms with ANAM in Elisabeth Murdoch Hall on Sunday 19 August 5pm.