Our mid-year season for The Australian Youth Orchestra is rapidly approaching and promises another uplifting and exciting concert. Simone Young will conduct a program of contrasts – Strauss’ monumental Alpine Symphony, and some sparkling concert arias with soprano Emma Matthews. Simone recently took some time out from conducting Wagner’s Ring cycle with her opera company in Hamburg to chat with the AYO’s Artistic Administrator, Genevieve Lang.
This is your first time working with the AYO – what expectations do you have?
All of my colleagues who have worked with the AYO over the years have always been very enthusiastic about working with such talented young musicians. I am looking forward to rehearsals full of experimentation, excitement, commitment and a lot of fun!
You’ve always had a close relationship with the music of the German Romantics, particularly Strauss. What do you hope to impart to the AYO musicians about the music from that period?
Most importantly, we will spend time working on the kind of sound that this music demands – there is a certain late-Romantic, German approach to articulation and phrasing that I hope to be able to express and develop with the AYO. I hope to be able to bring some of what I have learnt and experienced in my many years in the German-Austrian music world back home.
What will The Australian Youth Orchestra bring to Strauss’ music?
Vigour and unburdened excitement. These are highly proficient young musicians who look to the AYO for a great musical experience but also a lot of fun while they do it!
Given how demanding Strauss’ music can be, what advice would you give to the musicians of the AYO in their preparations?
Take the time to do some thorough preparation – that means listening to some recordings (I always favour ones from the 40s and 50s as these musicians had often had direct experience of Strauss), put in some time negotiating the technical difficulties and then get to know some other Strauss works if you have the time.
In contrast to the massive demands of Strauss on orchestral soloists and instrumental forces, Mozart’s music requires a different approach. What is your approach in this music?
Different but similar – all orchestral playing, be the work by Mozart or by Strauss, is about playing chamber music on a grand scale: listening, being aware of not only one’s own line, but learning how it is part of the entire musical fabric. Styles vary – articulation, dynamics, bowings – all these may be different, but the principle remains the same.