Pablo Rus Broseta. Photo: May Zircus (detail) View full image

Introducing Pablo Rus Broseta

As we welcome conductor Pablo Rus Broseta to the Maestro Arts roster, we ask him a few questions about his life and music

What were your first musical influences?

I’m from Valencia, where there is a big wind band tradition. Each village has its own band and every child joins in, so there is a mix of young and old, and you learn from everyone else. It’s quite relaxed and amateur, but sometimes you play with professionals too. It’s special – an opportunity to develop a sense of community and connect with other people. You learn the flexibility needed to work with different types of people, so it has been an important influence on my way of working.

My parents are not musicians, but music was always something I wanted to do. I started on the saxophone and took some piano and double bass lessons. That led me to study composition, which is how I became more connected to symphonic repertoire.

Why did you become a conductor?

I started conducting because I had to conduct my own compositions. I would also often be asked to step in with wind bands at the last minute when the conductor couldn’t be there. I was still interested in composition, but I enjoyed working with people on a daily basis. As a composer you spend a lot of time alone and I missed connecting with other people, so I decided to go towards conducting. My first experiences went well and I decided to keep going in this direction.

You founded Grup Mixtour in 2011. What was your idea?

We are all friends from Valencia who went away to study in different cities and are now professional. The idea is to play music at a high level just for fun, which you sometimes miss when you work in the business. When we have an idea we come back together to organise the project. One of the most important goals is to mix styles. For instance, in one programme we performed a piece by Couperin on historic instruments, alongside some electronic music piece with Techno Dance. We try to mix styles and approach every programme with this sense of discovery.

What was your experience like with Seattle Symphony Orchestra?

My four years with Seattle Symphony was an amazing experience because I had the chance to conduct everything – from Baroque music to symphonic repertoire and pops music. I had to learn a wide palette of music styles, so it was a great way to improve my flexibility. Everything moves very fast in America and you have to adapt quickly. I don’t believe in being a specialist and this way of working connected with the way I see music. This time in America was very important for me.

What have you learnt from collaborating with great artists?

I’ve had the chance to work with great soloists, including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell and Renée Fleming. That’s a special experience for me, because these people have always been my heroes and now I perform with them. You think they’re going to be demanding, but it’s just the opposite – they encourage you and want to cooperate. It’s so clear what they want to do musically and it’s easy to go with their ideas. There’s no hesitation – you watch them and you know what they want. You learn that it’s not necessary to explain your artistic point too much. It should be so clear that everybody comes with you.

What is your style of working with musicians?

I’m more of a listener than a talker. I prefer to listen and detect what people might need rather than impose my idea immediately. Of course, I try to get what I want, but first I need to understand what people are proposing. I’m like that in life as well as music – I listen before I do something. You might pick up interesting ideas that change your approach. We should always listen more than we talk – that’s a very important rule, not only for orchestras but also for the whole world.

What is your approach to programming?

Everything changes so quickly in our daily lives now and programmes need to reflect this way of moving from one place to another. For example, I wouldn’t do a full Beethoven programme, because it seems too static. I prefer to put music in the context of different areas and styles. If you have a Beethoven symphony mixing with more modern music, it makes you listen differently and gives you an alternative approach to the standard repertoire.

What do you enjoy about conducting new music?

I love new music because it gives me the opportunity to create sound. When you start from scratch and the orchestra doesn’t know a piece, you have a chance to build it from the beginning. It’s very interesting to give life to a new type of music or composition. With new commissions, you might only get two or three good pieces out of ten. That’s always a risk, but I like to take risks and when a new piece talks to you, it’s very special.

What are you hopes for the future of classical music?

There’s always a danger that we lose our concert hall audience so we have work to do. How do we get closer to them? Maybe with our repertoire and how we present our concerts. Orchestras and cultural organisations need to take more risks in their product. It’s easy to keep doing what we have been doing for the last century, but we can’t keep doing the same thing. We need to change with society. We must take risks.