Wednesday 16 November 2022

DANCE: conductor Chloé van Soeterstède, former Taki Alsop Conducting Fellow, shares her thoughts on creating a concert around Anna Clyne's recent work for cello and orchestra

Chloé van Soeterstède and Arch Sinfonia
Chloé van Soeterstède and Arch Sinfonia 

On Friday 18 November 2022, conductor Chloé van Soeterstède and Arch Sinfonia will give the London premiere of Anna Clyne's DANCE with cellist Inbal Segev, for whom the piece was written, as part of a concert at Cecil Sharp House featuring music by Sibelius and Beethoven also evoking the dance theme. Chloé van Soeterstède was Taki Alsop Conducting Fellow 2019-21, and this concert forms part of the wider Taki Alsop 20th Anniversary Global Series, which sees conducting fellows perform DANCE in cities around the globe. Here, Chloé van Soeterstède introduces the music, the concert and her role as Taki Alsop Conducting Fellow.

My name is Chloé van Soeterstède, I am a conductor and founded my chamber orchestra, Arch Sinfonia 10 years ago while studying viola at the Royal Academy of Music, London. 

Getting to conduct has always been a very organic and maturing process. I began my musical journey playing the violin, then the viola and through playing with youth orchestras and then professional orchestras, I learned a lot about conducting and my hunger for it grew from around age 14. I studied conducting in France and then completed my Masters in Conducting in Manchester. Signing with my manager at Intermusica in 2018 and since then, I have relished the opportunity to conduct many prestigious and fantastic orchestras, predominantly across Europe and North America.

Arch Sinfonia is a young professional cross-arts orchestra guided by three main principles: To be daring, inspiring and accessible. We are an orchestra which bridges the gap between audience and musicians with music from classical to contemporary. Verbal introductions in concerts aim to give a more informal atmosphere, welcoming audience members to sit amongst the musicians for a unique experience of the music and to consider it from a different perspective, and we also invite the audience to help shape Arch Sinfonia’s future programme by an audience vote, embedding a co-curated approach to each season.

As a cross-arts orchestra we strive to bridge music with other mediums including visual art, dance and spoken word through special initiatives and innovative partnerships. It is rare to find an orchestra dedicated to this and we are here to bridge that gap!

Anna Clyne’s work for cello and orchestra entitled DANCE is the centrepiece of our upcoming concert on 18 November and in fact inspired me to programme the whole concert around this theme. Drawing on this, we will also perform Sibelius’ Valse Triste and Beethoven’s Symphony no.8 – perhaps an unexpected work to include but nonetheless, it speaks to the theme with its daring minuet.

DANCE is a wonderful piece full of contrast, colours and different textures. I am particularly excited about the use of the percussion, which adds such depth to the music. The way Anna Clyne interweaves her music with different artforms is especially fitting for Arch Sinfonia, embodying the very essence of what the Orchestra is all about.

Inbal Segev recorded this piece with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and I was present at this recording during the beginning of my Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship (TACF) 2019-2020. I recall the energy and delicacy she brought to the piece, and I look forward to recreating this. Without a doubt, I feel very honoured to be conducting the UK premiere with my orchestra I founded 10 years ago and in such esteemed company of Inbal.

Being part of the Taki Alsop family has been a unique and empowering experience which I am so grateful for. I was fortunate to meet with Marin Alsop three times with three distinct orchestras in three different cities before COVID hit – Vienna, Paris and London – and this was a major coup for me at that point in my career. A big highlight of my time with the TACF was in Vienna, when Marin asked me to conduct part of her general rehearsal of Schumann’s Second Symphony, the 3rd movement. As she knew what a fan I am of this movement, I was very humbled!

Arch Sinfonia’s next concert in June 2023 will continue the TACF ethos of championing women in classical music, promoting female composers and commissioning a new work by British composer, Lucy Armstrong, and with saxophone soloist Gillian Blair. Alongside this, we look to growing our work with schools to inspire the next generation of musicians and develop meaningful engagement initiatives with community groups. Naturally, the hit that the arts has taken recently is very scary for us as an orchestra which relies entirely on donations, ticket income and sponsorship. In this climate, funding is increasingly difficult to secure, so we are of course immensely grateful to the TACF for the sponsorship of Dance on November 18! Although this leaves the future uncertain, I remain steadfast in my commitment to Arch Sinfonia and to delivering its vision to reimagine orchestral music to be daring, inspiring and accessible to all. 

Full details of the Arch Sinfonia's concert at Cecil Sharp House on Friday 18 November from the English Folk Dance and Song Society website.

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