Wisdom from 2022 (detail) View full image

What we learnt in 2022

Over the year our artists have talked to us about their current projects – here are some of their observations and insights

‘This person is undergoing something hideously traumatic. He’s not the murderous villain that the mob claims him to be. He’s certainly negligent, and you wouldn’t want him to babysit, but he’s not an evil character. He’s undergone traumatic incidents and it’s important for me to try to understand what that was like for him’

Allan Clayton on reprising the role of Peter Grimes at Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera

‘I’ve always been struck by Schubert’s lack of answers. With Beethoven, there are questions, but he almost always creates some sense of resolution. That’s rarely the case with Schubert. And yet there’s also a sense of hope. For me, that makes him the most human of all composers‘

Paul Lewis on his return to Schubert for a recording and recital tour

‘The word Netflix has come up a lot in rehearsals and I don’t see that as a pejorative description. Netflix acting is some of the finest acting of our time. I tell young singers, Just think of ”How I Met Your Mother" or ”Imagine Breaking Bad" and their brains suddenly transform. I don’t see these as low-brow references – they’re meaningful for the minds of today’

Irina Brook worked with young opera singers at La Scala

‘Classical music gets put into the zone of being something that socially sophisticated people do as a recreation, and not something that’s alive, revolutionary and life changing. And yet, classical music has the capacity to move and transform people like no other music’

Visual artist Mat Collishaw joined Maestro Arts

‘Players often use this equipment or this era of music as an excuse to make lazy or not thoroughly informed decisions. They create bulges or randomly decide not to vibrate, so I had assumed there must be some technical or equipment-based reason for it. I discovered that it’s harder to do those things with Baroque equipment’

Elena Urioste picked up a Baroque bow to play Vivaldi

‘The original musicians struggled with Mahler’s parts but that’s what he wanted. With modern instruments it’s all too comfortable. Beauty happens at the edge of the abyss, though, and if you have never fallen, you have never been there. We are planning to fall and to see where the last step is’

Philipp von Steinaecker conducted Mahler on the composer’s original instruments

‘I would like to see more risk in classical music. I want things to be visceral and confusing rather than safe and didactic; more imagination and more rigour. Similarly, in contemporary music, we need to break open commissioning culture to allow artists to explore new formats, instrumentations, spaces, durations, and more’

Our latest signing Jack Sheen shared his vision for the future of music

‘Some conductors hate it when the composer is in the audience. I love it, because I receive feedback about the original idea – why and how it was written, how it sounds better. Your job as conductor is to be the bridge between composer and audience. That bridge doesn’t lead wherever you want it to’

Bassem Akiki on conducting new music

‘For anyone interested in photographing people – candidly or otherwise – it’s an extraordinary experience... Their friendly demeanour and positive outlook on life even in adverse conditions are an inspiration, and the great tide of immigration into the city both from within India and from further afield in recent decades manifests itself in a rich tapestry of different religions, customs, colourful clothing and textiles that is a visual feast for the camera’

Richard Farnes took his cameras on tour to India

‘There’s a misconception that opera and classical music are elitist because of the price, but if you go and see the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, a ticket for that is far more expensive than going to the Royal Opera House. There is this misconception that it’s elitist because it’s expensive, but it’s not. That’s an enormous thing to clear up. It’s not necessarily a cheap night out, but it’s not as expensive as other things could be’

George Jackson conducted an opera about football

‘I come to rehearsals prepared with many ideas to explore, but I’ve learnt that if you surrender to the creative process, you achieve things that you couldn’t possibly have thought of otherwise. It’s like the process of sculpting. I start with a huge rock, made up of many scenes and ideas. Then I sculpt it, removing everything that is not coherent, taking pieces away and only keeping the most important, coherent, beautiful jewels – the little diamonds I find inside this huge rock of ideas’

Fernando Melo on choreographing Mozart

‘I am struck by the beginning of the Schubert. It gives me pleasure just to imagine how the first chord is going to order space and time as soon as I put my fingers on the keyboard. There’s nothing happening there: it feels as if it digs into one moment and stretches it out infinitely, and this is so much in line with Proust’s understanding of the world’

Pavel Kolesnikov performed Schubert as part of his Proust-themed programme