”Simone has an incredible presence and I think she absolutely lives up to her reputation as one of the finest conductors in the world todayEmma GreganAdelaide Symphony Orchestra, Horn player
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra player Emma Gregan (horn) tells us about her experience performing with operatic repertoire, what it’s like performing under the direction of Simone Young and tells us what’s different about a “Strauss Orchestra”
Have you ever worked with Simone Young before? If so, what was she like, if not, are you eager to perform with one of the greatest Australian female conductors?
Yes, I’ve had the great pleasure to perform Mahler 6 under Simone Young’s direction in two different orchestras. Simone has an incredible presence and I think she absolutely lives up to her reputation as one of the finest conductors in the world today. Probably my favourite thing about her conducting is her ability to always keep the bigger musical picture in mind and convey that to us even when nutting out the smaller details, so that at the end of a long and difficult work you always have a sense of everything tying in really beautifully across the performance. So I’m very much looking forward to performing some operatic repertoire with her, which will be a new experience for me
What is different about a Strauss orchestra?
Strauss liked his orchestras big – while we would normally use a reduced string section and only a handful of wind players to play Classical repertoire like the Mozart operas, Strauss really made full use of the Romantic orchestra and then some, so we’ll be bringing a much more generous helping of players, and a broader variety of colours in the wind, brass, and percussion. It’s not uncommon to hear some more unusual percussion instruments like the wind-machine in Strauss’ music too!
What is your connection to Strauss’ music?
Strauss was actually horn player too, and between him and his father Franz (the hornist who premiered many of Wagner’s operas and a wonderful composer in his own right), they were really pivotal figures in establishing the sound and repertoire of the Romantic horn. In that sense, I think all horn players feel a very special connection with the music of Strauss. His writing tends to be very lush and extravagant, but extraordinarily tender as well. I would definitely count him among my absolute favourite composers and always look forward to performing his works.
What is different about performing with vocalists as opposed to performing purely orchestral music?
Vocalists have the ability to add a unique and beautiful colour to an already broad palette of sound that an orchestra can make on its own. I feel that singers have a sense of phrase and emotional energy about them that can bring a really magical storytelling quality to the music we play. We certainly approach some logistical things like balance and coordination differently with vocal soloists on the stage too, especially as operatic music often contains so much more recitative and rubato than standard orchestral music, so it really keeps us on our toes too!
Horn – Tutti
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra