What inspired you to join The Hermes Experiment?
I think The Hermes Experiment has great potential. It’s an interesting and well though-out combination of instruments, which really works! There are a number of ensembles that venture into contemporary music, a great example being the Britten Sinfonia, but there aren’t many ensembles that have a fixed and unusual instrumental line-up – so I like to think we’re working with something quite new and exciting here!
I’m joining The Hermes Experiment in the role of Director (Marketing and Development). As part of my remit I have reworked the ensemble’s approach to marketing, which will now focus on offering insights into the creative process behind each commission, as well as insights into the members’ perceptions and interpretations of the pieces in the group’s repertoire. My role also covers planning and implementing a longer term strategy for the group, which so far has included coming up with ideas and planning our 2014/15 season. Read on for a preview of our plans….
What do you see as the key to The Hermes Experiment’s artistic identity?
Due to the combination of instruments being so unique, new commissions naturally form a key part of the ensemble’s identity. I think Hermes could become a truly great platform for creating new art and music, and the feedback we’ve already received about the idea of Hermes, whether audience members, composers or other established musicians, has been overwhelmingly positive.
How do you plan to tackle the potential inaccessibility of contemporary classical music?
I think contemporary music can very easily become inaccessible – people get scared off by a programme where they don’t recognise the name of a single composer. But one of the things I want to introduce and establish with Hermes is really engaging its audiences, which will be done in a variety of ways. We’re launching a new blog that gives the players’ and composers’ insights into the ensemble’s new commissions – discussing the creative process, as well as impressions of the finished product. During performances, we’ll have spoken programme notes for each piece being performed to contextualise them, and increase the overall accessibility. This idea has already been road-tested on a couple of the works in previous concerts, e.g. Beamish’s Awuya, and the feedback on this has been very positive.
What are your plans for the group?
At the moment, we’ve been planning our 2014/15 season. One of my new initiatives has been to give each concert a specific theme, around which we’re commissioning new works. The idea is to create really solid programmes, which vary from concert to concert; by theming each concert, we’ll be able to focus the discussion of the pieces in the spoken programme notes, further engaging our audiences with the music, and to really explore the ensemble’s artistic potential. To give a sneaky preview, our first concert of the season (scheduled for early autumn 2014) will be themed Inspired by Bach, and it will feature Bach arrangements, as well as new commissions of works inspired by the composer. And this is just the first of four themed concerts we’re planning overall, so look out for the other exciting themes as and when they are revealed……..
Thinking of the ensemble’s future plans, what are you most excited about?
The Hermes Experiment is just getting started – the whole journey ahead of us will be challenging, but mostly really exciting! But what I’m excited about the most is creating a new way of presenting contemporary classical music – I think with some hard work and determination we can create something truly unique here, something that is very attractive to the ensemble members, composers and audiences. I’m very much looking forward to what lies ahead!