Issue 12: Strictly and Stravinsky

In what feels like a different world to the last time I wrote one of these introductions, I’m really delighted to welcome you to Issue 12, which will be FREE ACCESS until further notice. There was a delay with the third interview, due to the unforeseen schedule changes of two of the possible conductors that were going to be included. But never fear, it is in production and will be added in due course.

A while back I was virtually housebound with Epstein-Barr virus for around three years, and have had complications ever since (which are now, thankfully, improving a lot more). Research was one of the main things that boosted my health when I was convalescing, and it also reduced anxiety enormously. I hope that if anyone reading is in a similar situation, getting absorbed in these interviews will offer a welcome distraction or comfort.

First of all, we have (the wonderful, wonderful) Dave Arch, Musical Director of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. What a clever guy. A graduate of Guildhall School of Music, and a very familiar face to Strictly superfans, Dave not only conducts the orchestra, but arranges every piece of live music for the players in the week leading up to the show. He kindly agreed to speak with me earlier this year about his work on the programme, and I hope that our conversation provides valuable information for those keen to branch out from purely orchestral/classical conducting.

And secondly, there is the equally wonderful Ormsby Wilkins – Music Director of American Ballet Theatre. Ormsby has been conducting ballet for around forty years, and his choice of piece was Stravinky’s Apollo (with choreography by George Balanchine). This work is one of Ormsby’s all time favourites – the final Apotheosis would be one of his ‘Desert Island Discs’! Very many of us are familiar with Stravinsky’s music, but it is less common to understand his pieces as interdisciplinary works. This interview will shed light on how a conductor must also consider Balanchine’s choreography alongside Stravinsky’s neoclassical score to ensure a successful performance. See also Issue 4: Conducting for Dance if you would like to read more about this subject.

What a treat. As ever, huge thanks to both Dave and Ormsby. It’s been a real pleasure and I hope you all enjoy reading our conversations.

Stay safe and keep well,

Dr. Hannah Baxter