Nathan der Weise directed by Ulrich Rasche  at Salzburger Festspiele. Photo: Monika Rittershaus (detail) View full image

Wise words from 2023

As we approach the end of 2023, we look back at some of the conversations we’ve had with our artists over the year and what we learnt from them

‘I’d love to tell every violist who plays chamber music that when people say they can’t hear the viola, it’s easy to play louder, but that’s the most dangerous thing to do. It supresses any other way of expression. If we have an individual voice and say something specific, it will come through

Hélène Clément, Doric String Quartet

‘There is a lot of good music we can bring to the concert hall, and a lot of energy we can take from people who have traditionally not come to concerts. I believe that given the opportunity to listen to the sound an orchestra can produce, and the expressiveness and emotions that can be felt in classical music, everyone can feel welcome

Elena Schwarz

‘Studying other art forms makes you much more sensitive in what you create. When we play, we should always tell a story. Otherwise, it has no meaning. You can play all the notes in tune, very fast, and it’s effective, but music only becomes art when you make a story’

Ivan Karizna

A pit orchestra should be like a soft cloud for the singers, supporting their sound and sending it up to the upper circle of the audience’

Kazushi Ono

‘Conducting is like dancing in the future. Everything that I do is about changing the sound, influencing time and providing people with information they need. I don’t think about choreography consciously, though. If you’ve really studied a work and have a concept of it, your hands always go to the right place

Matthew Straw

Theatre and opera as living arts are unique and they will never disappear because they represent what it is to be alive. When people have a chance to see the spectacle, they change their way of thinking. It gives them something to feel and a sense of magic’

Laurent Pelly

‘I always agree to work on projects where I can see the possibility of a new interpretation, where politics is involved, where I can feel the potential for a great work process and for good team work. I like to work on a good literature and to find a thoughts transporter for me. It has to be material that can exude strong emotions. The content has to be serious

Barbara Wysocka

‘With late Beethoven, each piece is such a special journey, and when you perform them, they take on a life of their own. That’s the beauty of chamber music, and the genius of Beethoven and all the composers we play. We are giving a rendition, but sometimes the piece takes us where it wants, rather than the other way around’

Marie Bitlloch, Elias String Quartet

‘I think of orchestral pieces as fantastical animals that start to breathe when we begin to play them. You’re in an enclosure with this mythical beast, trying to understand it and touch it and not let it bite you. Improvisation is a good preparation for being present in that process’

Robert Houssart

‘I’ve had the chance to work with great soloists. You think they’re going to be demanding, but it’s just the opposite – they encourage you and want to cooperate. You learn that it’s not necessary to explain your artistic point too much. It should be so clear that everybody comes with you

Pablo Rus Broseta

We shouldn’t trust easy, one-layer answers, but always see the multiplicity in the reality around us. This has always been my way of thinking but this music has reminded me how essential it is’

Alexander Polzin

‘Classical music, like a lot of art that was made before the 20th century, 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

Mat Collishaw