New music opens my cultural appetite…

Ahead of his performance in Wolfgang Rihm at 60, Thierry Fischer talks to us about his relationship with new music…

Thierry Fischer, Image © Chris Stock

In Wolfgang Rihm at 60, you’ll be conducting several UK premieres.  How do you approach learning unfamiliar scores?

It very much depends on the complexity of the piece, the length, and the compositional technique of the composer. I usually take a systematic approach to the piece; going bar by bar, in detail. I then read everything I can about the context in which the composer wrote the piece and then come back, as many times as I need to, in order to find a natural approach to the piece. It is honestly different for every single piece, every different composer, and also depends on my schedule around the time of the concert. Sometimes I will prepare for months in advance and sometimes it is much closer to the concert date.

If you could name one piece of new music that changed you, what would it be?

The Scardanelli Zyklus by Heing Holliger.

You perform a vast range of repertoire with a variety of different ensembles.  What attracts you to new music?

New music opens my cultural appetite. I need/love to study and perform new scores on a regular basis. I believe that this is one of the conductor’s responsibilities. Rehearsing and performing new music is galvanising my creativity. It shows me new worlds, new sound possibilities and creates cultural connections. I need to feel challenged by new compositional technique; it is an irresistible attraction and enriches my perception of looking at music written in the past.

We live at the start of the 21st century. As well as bringing technical and expressive possibilities to players, new music expands the potential for extreme reactions, hopes, curiosity and fun for audiences. I simply couldn’t live without actively participating and supporting the creative composing process of today.

And what piece(s) of music are you listening to right now?

Three different Masses by Wiliam Byrd.

Thierry Fischer’s next performance with the London Sinfonietta will be in Wolfgang Rihm at 60, on Tuesday 24 January.

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