30 January 2017 at 1.07pm | Comment on this article
Conductor Koen Kessels was appointed Music Director of The Royal Ballet in 2015. He came with extensive experience of ballet, having been Music Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet since 2010. But contemporary music has also been a touchstone throughout his career, and through his position as Artistic Director of the HERMESensemble he has collaborated with many of the leading contemporary composers of our time.
‘Commissioning new music is one of the ways to bring about evolution in our society’, says Koen. ‘It’s very difficult to find the right way to promote contemporary music and new commissions – but I think ballet, opera and stage work are the ideal field’.
He always encourages composers to ‘go and see and find the choreographer who you feel aligned to’.
Bringing a new work to life means balancing the needs of the composer and of the choreographer with those of the dancers. 'It’s always delicate to find the right mood and tempi working with dancers – so that the dancers can be their best on stage', says Koen.
The Music Director compares ballet conducting with accompanying singers:
'Accompanying means you understand the gesture, you understand the breathing – it’s the same with dancers. So it’s more of an understanding and a trust.’
Koen Kessels is speaking at an ROH Insights event on 7 February 2017. Tickets are still available.