Since being appointed music director of the Academy of Ancient Music in 2006, Richard Egarr has directed that orchestra in concerts around the world and in a number of acclaimed recordings. He also often performs with non-period orchestras, but until this weekend has never conducted The Philadelphia Orchestra. We asked him five questions in anticipation of his appearance.
Q. You have performed with orchestras around the world. What are your feelings about conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra for the first time?
A. I’m of course greatly honored and excited to be conducting this great orchestra. I hope that they will respond favorably to my kind of music making.
Q. In addition to conducting, you will also be playing the harpsichord. How difficult is it to conduct from the keyboard?
A. Directing from the keyboard is very natural for me. It’s something that I’ve done ever since university. It also creates a different relationship to the player—you become more “one of them” and not just perhaps a separate stick-waving object.
Q. The Academy of Ancient Music hews as closely as possible to the style in which the music was originally performed. How much of that intention will you bring to The Philadelphia Orchestra?
A. The main thing is that I bring my ideas of the music to everyone in a clear and passionate way. Giving a half-hour list of rules is a huge turn off. I hope that I can just demonstrate and describe what colors I see in the music and activate everyone’s imagination in order to make the music live.
Q. Even though you are the music director of the Academy of Ancient Music, you have never performed with Giuliano Carmignola, who is a director there and who also will be making his debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. What makes the performance special when a conductor, a musician, and an orchestra have never worked together before?
A. Although I’ve never worked with Giuliano I am a great admirer of his playing and exciting musicianship. He has been a guest director with the Academy on a number of projects over the years, so I know a little about him from Academy players. It is going to be a hugely exciting ride for all of us to perform this famous collection of concertos with him.
Q. What is one thing that you always do before going onstage?
A. I don’t have any rituals before going onstage. I find the waiting to go on extremely tiresome, so I guess what I do is pace around backstage waiting.