SWON: You played in the orchestra during our first rehearsal of Vortex and have also conducted some rehearsals, what was that experience like as the composer?
LEO: In both cases I take my composer hat off. I find the playing and conducting a very different act. The fundamental difference when it is my music, is that I am in the fortunate position of knowing the music very well (as you’d hope!). So, when conducting I act on my intimate knowledge of the music to aid my colleagues in the performance of it.
It’s always a very exciting and somewhat terrifying experience at a first rehearsal. Having spent months locked away writing, finally the moment has come to hear it in the flesh. As is nearly always the case, the first read of the piece is usually somewhat chaotic, as the performers quite rightly get to grips with what is being asked of them. This was certainly the case with SWON, so I wanted to be very encouraging and inspire everyone to persevere. It appeared that not much encouragement was needed as everyone was very keen to make it happen, and I am very excited to hear the final result!
SWON: On concert night, rumour has it you’ll be among the orchestra as well… is that something you often have the opportunity to do with first performances of your compositions? What is your ideal situation for the first outing?
LEO: I very rarely play the bassoon now, as I am primarily a professional composer and conductor. So, it is very unusual for me to be playing at the premiere of one of my own pieces, which I am very much looking forward to. Usually I’m the one flapping my arms around, which I much prefer to sitting in the audience. I tend to get very fidgety, questioning my compositional decisions and over analysing the audience reaction. I much prefer being in the action and making the music come alive!