20 April 2021, 14:24 | Up to date: 20 April 2021, 16:06
Because the Austrian clarinettist slips out of the woodwind part and onto the rostrum for the primary time within the UK, he tells Basic FM of his fluid angle to devices, and why it’s harmful to see the humanities as ‘non-profit’.
This Wednesday (21 April), Andreas Ottensamer, worldwide soloist and principal clarinettist of the Berlin Philharmonic, is placing his reeds away and taking to the rostrum, to steer the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in his UK conducting debut.
It’s a transfer a number of musicians have made, together with nice pianist and maestro Daniel Barenboim. Ottensamer says he started the transition by ‘play-conducting’, a unprecedented balancing act coined maybe most famously by soprano Barbara Hannigan, the place the night’s star soloist additionally conducts the orchestra.
“However it’s a very totally different pair of footwear, to conduct an entire program as a conductor and never play an instrument,” Ottensamer tells Basic FM. “And this pandemic gave me the time to essentially push this to the following degree and to get comfy in myself as properly.”
In a traditional 12 months, Ottensamer’s diary can be filled with each orchestral and solo engagements. However amid all the thrill, he desperately needed “one thing like a 12 months off, simply to check as a conductor”.
In a wierd flip of destiny, his want was granted final 12 months as live performance halls world wide started to close their doorways. Whereas it’s been a devastating time for the humanities and music, Ottensamer – together with baritone Roderick Williams, who recently signed as a composer – discovered a novel alternative to concentrate on honing a brand new talent.
“The depth that I used to be capable of dedicate to conducting, and to totally and considerably learning it, has been wonderful all through this era,” he provides.
This isn’t the primary time Ottensamer’s eye has wandered via the orchestra. As a toddler, he took piano classes, turning to the cello aged 10 and eventually, on the comparatively classic age of 14, discovering his essential instrument. It should assist, when conducting, to have that deeper understanding of different sections.
“I’ve additionally performed the cello myself, so I understand how string gamers work, what they want. The sensible facet may be very a lot embedded in my DNA,” Ottensamer says.
“However to be sincere, having this perception into the 2 essential sections, wind and strings… I’ve all the time been very overtly fluid between devices. I’ve by no means felt I’m ‘solely’ a wind participant or clarinettist. Even once I play the clarinet, I attempt to get inspiration from different devices, like ‘okay this half sounds a bit flute-y’ or ‘I can think about how a cellist would play that’.
“I used to be by no means very a lot hooked up to 1 particular instrument, although the clarinet is after all my essential instrument. That’s why I really feel very pure in direction of all that and this transition actually wasn’t a wierd step in any respect, it was only a approach to intensify my entire work in music.”
It’s been a demanding 12 months for the humanities world, with entire departments scrapped, venues closed, and in-person music-making changed nearly in a single day by live-streamed concerts. Contemplating that is Ottensamer’s UK conducting debut, has COVID-19 sophisticated that preliminary rehearsal course of with the BSO?
“This orchestra has finished an unbelievable job in these previous months,” the clarinettist emphasises. “In fact, there are big changes that need to be made, with exams, the entire digital construction with cameras and lighting, and now, musicians taking part in at a distance from one another. The stage might be double the scale of what it was.”
However for Ottensamer, this can be a luxurious. “It’s actually wonderful to only have the ability to make music, and this isn’t the case in every single place else on the earth for the time being. Solely so many orchestras have a tremendous corridor, and workers round that may really pull it off.
“Should you view it like that, then all these little adjustments it’s a must to make, like creating distance between gamers, appear actually small. I can’t complain about any of this for a second.”
Ottensamer, an in-demand soloist and orchestral participant, has been principal clarinet with the Berlin Philharmonic since 2011, and was Artist in Residence on the BSO, Basic FM’s Orchestra within the South of England, for a 12 months. He should really feel a way of hope, seeing reside music and reside audiences lastly re-emerging.
“A extra becoming phrase can be respect – for what folks can pull off when occasions are exhausting,” the clarinettist replies.
“Generally it comes throughout like ‘properly if everybody was making an attempt exhausting sufficient that we might all do that’, however that’s actually not the case. Some merely can’t. And I’d a lot somewhat have a live performance not happen, than if the trouble actually goes past any of the sense that it makes and it even places folks in danger. And in Bournemouth and Berlin, that has been finished fantastically.”
For Ottensamer, we are able to study an necessary lesson concerning the arts from this era. “Everybody very simply says ‘arts are so important for society’ – however that doesn’t all the time imply that folks act on it that method.
“We nearly view the humanities as a ‘non-profit’ type of factor, the place we are saying the humanities are there for folks for society. However in signifies that in occasions of disaster, when folks get reduction and pleasure from tradition and humanities, then we additionally have to assist them.”
Even after pandemic restrictions are over, Ottensamer is bought on the concept of live-streaming – not as a alternative, however as a useful add-on for the classical trade.
“I believe with all these digital efforts that we’ve made, it might appear now like ‘not fairly the true factor’ in case you examine it to essentially going to a live performance. However I believe for the long run, these amplifications of tradition and music don’t have to fade.
“Say in Bournemouth, why not hold this construction of streaming concert events? You may attain a a lot wider viewers with streaming – not 1,000 folks, however 5,000 at one live performance.”
Can, we ask, a digital viewers ever reside as much as the in-person expertise – for both the viewers or performers?
“For certain it will likely be wonderful once more once we play for a full home. It’s like in case you do not eat sugar for a 12 months, after which all of the sudden you eat a whole sweet bar and go excessive with all the things you do on stage. In order that will likely be one thing wonderful to witness – I can’t bear in mind the final time that occurred.
“The ambiance is basically at its peak when the home is full, and that collective expertise is so necessary for each the viewers and performers.”
Watch Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s live-streamed live performance performed by Andreas Ottensamer and offered by Basic FM’s Catherine Bott, on the BSO website.