Energy Conductor

Edward Gardner’s baton is a ligtening rod seeking to draw “as much color and drama as possible” from the orchestra.

His energy-extracting wizardry will be on display April 14 and 15 when the conductor takes the reins of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in performances of Adams’ “Chamber Symphony,” Mozart’s “Oboe Concerto in C Major,” Britten’s “Sinfonietta” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 8 in F Major.”

The concerts will mark the West Coast debut of the 32-year-old Brit, who was recently named music director of the English National Opera.

FineArtsLA spoke with the conductor about the craft of conducting and the weekend’s challenging program.

FALA: How is your youth reflected in your approach to music? In other words, how do you differ from your predecessors?

EG: I certainly don’t approach my music-making reactively just to be different. I suppose my relative youth gives me a certain kind of energy which I try to use to bring what I want out of the music, which for me is as much color and drama as possible.

FALA: What are the differences in performing in the US and UK, as far as programming, type of audience, etc.?

EG: I find working with orchestras here similar to the UK: lots of energy and very quick work. Wherever I am, I try to combine well known works (like the Beethoven in this program) with lesser-known pieces. The Adams and Britten will, I’m expecting, only be known to few. So the audience goes away with a new take on a classic, or more pieces and composers to cherish.

FALA: How did you approach the pieces on this weekend’s program? Which one was most intriguing?

EG: The Adams was most intriguing. I’ve conducted other pieces by this wonderful
composer, including the opera “Death of Klinghoffer,” but the language of this piece is very individual and appealing. It’s incredibly technically demanding for the players, and the energy level is heightened — I found myself trying to hold my breath for the entire first movement! I like the lightness of touch in it, and it’s going to be fun
finding that with the players. You get the impression everything in this piece is done with a wink.

FALA: What makes a good conductor?

EG: Being able to convince an orchestra and audience of your interpretations, persuading them to come along for the ride. Also getting the maximum out of the orchestra: It’s them facing the audience in the concert.

FALA: What do you like to do when not making music?

EG: I watch a bit of soccer and see my friends, and maybe catch a play.

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