GRANT PARK FESTIVAL
Programme 1, Grant Park Orchestra
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements, Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
Programme 2, Grant Park Orchestra
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Brahms: Requiem
Grime: A Cold Spring
Mason: Open to Infinity: A Grain of Sand (World Premiere)
These two radically different events might require two distinct artistic approaches. But in fact, this is not the case. At the Grant Park Festival there might be between 6000 and 8000 people present for our programmes of Stravinsky and Prokofiev, Schoenberg and Brahms, and at the Proms there might be a more of a specialist audience for this particular programme featuring Boulez. But it doesn´t change my expectations or way of working.
In performing music, I feel that everyone in the audience should be able to experience great things. When I push for pure or extreme sound, I never doubt that people will get it. Seen from a distance – the artists on the stage and the audience should understand a common goal: the urge to produce musical sounds in public. Achieving a common understanding of this is a crucial goal of mine. If we understand what is common between audiences and performers, we can taste what could be new or unexpected.
What is a musical sound? A noise after sound? It reflects our need for de-intellectualisation. There are challenges in listening to both Schoenberg in Chicago, or Grime in London. At the Grant Park Festival, listening to these works in unison within a big crowd might reflect a desire for comfort and communication. In London, listening to Boulez, Grime and Mason might draw more of a specialist audience. Still, there is the same concentration, and both types of audiences will be difficult to please.
In both Chicago and London, I would like both audiences to feel that they have their own experience in the moment; to be free of the Urtext, and to rid themselves of the feeling of time. When you perform music, you are dealing with the feelings and the hopes of the composers. Nevertheless, my hope is that the audience does not feel the weight of the written material. I want them to feel that the material belongs to them and to us at that moment. Still, there is no recipe for inspiration, because we are not taught to invent, only prepare. We learn to continue, but not to start. A start cannot be learned.
In both places I will feel like a tightrope-walker. This is a delicate feeling: you need absolute control in a framework of rules. All the vital forces of creativity can then unleash themselves. We need the-se rules to touch what is beyond. This is especially important for the Boulez pieces. Boulez talks about giving time for resonance. He has a lot of rules, but you don’t feel them.
For the two programmes in Chicago, I wanted there to be a contradiction within them: for the first programme, something strict followed by a sense of abandon, as in Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements followed by Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. For the second programme, I wanted to start with this sense of abandon – Schoenberg´s Verklärte Nacht – followed by something which can potentially guide us spiritually – Brahms Requiem. This conjures a balancing act between the mysticism of our thoughts and the concrete reality. I think we need these contradictions to feel the notion of time.