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Photo: Rémy Ballot

02.09.2021

Sensing What Is Happening

Rémy Ballot is an insider tip amongst the generation of new and aspiring conductors. He has worked with musicians on the West Bank and heads his own orchestra.

In this interview, he tells us why he doesn’t want to simply take up again where he broke off due to corona. He believes that the Bank Austria Salon is the perfect setting for creating the sense of intimacy that is regaining its importance in music.

Rémy Ballot
Photo: Reinhard Winkler

You were born in Paris in 1977. Why did you move to Vienna in 2004?

Vienna is a city of music. I felt that I could learn a lot here. And then I played in lots of orchestras in order to gather as many different experiences as possible. One must always develop further and one can move and change by encountering others. I find this fascinating.

You are a conductor and a violinist. Does this enable you to understand both sides better?

Absolutely! As a conductor I can widen my repertoire and play Richard Wagner or Anton Bruckner. This is completely enriching. As a violinist one rarely plays solos and cooperates much more with others. I better understand the wishes of the strings and can react to these as a conductor. It’s clear to me what they require. When one works with young people it’s particularly important that one takes their fears and problems seriously.

Starting up again following the cultural hardships of the corona crisis

You were involved in setting up an orchestra in Ramallah in Palestine in 2019. How was that?

An exciting experience because it’s also a completely different world. I got to know great musicians; we played concerts in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jordan. The idea behind this was that music can offer people a new perspective; that they don’t only have to think about politics but can see another horizon. The project was part of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. It was also about preparing young talents for their entrance examination in Berlin; about them having a future as a student in Europe. Unfortunately, the work was halted by the corona crisis. This is a real shame.

Has corona also influenced your work?

Lots of things were cancelled. I’m currently addressing the question of how we should now start up again. I’d like to react to the times that we’re living in. I believe that, as a musician, one should sense what is happening at any moment and what the audience needs. I ask myself: What is the right answer after this year of cultural hardship? I’m wondering how one can interact with the audience, which pieces would be suitable for this. I’d like to try to address the audience very directly. To enable them to enjoy a new kind of experience, the experience of feeling in some small way as if they are at home, making their own music.

A concert as a gift

What’s changed after these many lockdowns?

The atmosphere is completely different compared with a year ago. People first have to get used to the altered situation. I’d like to launch a sort of reconstruction accompanied by music. To join my orchestra, the Klangkollektiv, in giving people a concert as a gift. Also in the Bank Austria Salon: I’ve already completely changed the programme that I’m planning for autumn three times. We have to think differently. I don’t want to simply take up again where I broke off. I believe that a sense of intimacy is regaining its importance in music. And the Bank Austria Salon offers the perfect setting for this.