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5 Minutes with Conductor Teresa Riveiro Böhm

16 Aug 2022
  • Meet the Artists
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
5 Minutes with Conductor Teresa Riveiro Böhm

Conductor Teresa Riveiro Böhm will make her ASO debut at Symphony Series 7 – Exhilaration this October. Read on to get to know more about Teresa, her conducting style and what she loves most about Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

This will be your debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. What do you know about the orchestra?

Yes, it will be my first visit to Australia as well and I am so much looking forward to getting to know this part of the world!

What I know is that this Orchestra is the largest orchestra in South Australia and it offers an incredible variety of concerts for a very broad audience, which shows an enormous flexibility and openness.

I can’t wait to meet these fantastic musicians of the ASO and to connect through the music.

The title for the concert you are conducting is Exhilaration do you believe its title aptly reflects the repertoire being performed? How so?

Certainly. Music in general has this incredible power of transporting us all to new places. This programme delves into the realms of fantasy and adventure, where one can enter different rooms to explore.

Ravel’s Mother Goose and Stravinsky’s Firebird are fairytales, and I remember the excitement I had when I was a child reading and listening to these stories over and over again, always with the same feeling of exhilaration. I guess many of us grew up with these stories, and I think these pieces give us a chance to reconnect with that curiosity and excitement of our childhood.

Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is like a big journey through different sound-worlds. With its famous opening, I always feel like it is pulling you upwards, higher and higher, as if it was taking you off to fly.

The Overture by Bacewicz is a very exciting, moving work. There are so many things to discover!
More about this piece later…..

You will be conducting Stravinsky’s rich and exquisite Firebird Suite, what do you love about the piece?

This piece absolutely fascinates me every time! The richness of ideas and the fantasy in it is completely mind-blowing.

It is like Stravinsky is opening up an entire fantasy world. He manages to tell the story of the ballet, but he also encourages us not to put limits to our own fantasy.

I love this music very much, especially the connection with the Russian folk songs. As I myself studied in Russia when I was a child, this music is very close to me and, for me, the lyrical parts represent the Russian way of “singing on the instrument”.

My favourite moment is the beginning of the finale when the horn starts, followed by the long development where the same melody is repeated until the culmination arrives. I cannot say why, but this moment is very special to me.

You are also conducting the Australian premiere of Grazyna Bacewicz’s exhilarating overture. Can you describe the work and explain what audiences can expect to hear?

For me this music is like a big adventure. It takes you to different realms to explore and you can find all sorts of fascinating and unexpected things.

It is very joyful music (it could also be described as a bit wild and crazy!), but always in a very elated sense. There are many contrasts, and it is full of surprises. The music has a big focus on rhythm, which to me is very moving – sometimes literally!

There are some parts that sound very familiar, you can recognise what we call a familiar classical style, what could also be described as neoclassicism. But this would not be enough to describe the style of this piece because it is absolutely unique and full of “special ideas”.

I think it has the potential to stay long in the mind and memory, even after only listening to it once.

The ASO is committed to including female composition in each of its Symphony Series concerts. How important is it to you as a female conductor that female composition is being recognised?

There are so many brilliant works by female composers, we just don’t know enough of them yet. Like every great composition, I think they should become a part of the known repertoire.

It is important to perform these pieces more and more, so that in some time, more audiences will become familiar with them.

Combining it with very well-known so-called “classical” works is for me a great way to bring this fantastic music closer to the audience.

You have been described as one of the most outstanding conductors of the new European generation. How does this make you feel?

This is the thing I always wanted to do – to devote my life entirely to music and to be able to share my love and passion for it. It makes me feel thankful to get the chance to be able to take on this beautiful job – and responsibility – and to get the chance to work with great orchestras and musicians and to share music with so many people.

I could not be more grateful.

Are there any particular challenges you face as a brilliant young female conductor?

I have always felt well integrated and welcomed, both in my studies and professional life. Of course, there are certain challenges I think all (or at least many) young conductors face. This is the process and experience about getting to know everything in this profession – you have to be open for any input and exchange. It is about much more than just the music, and at some point you start to learn and discover a lot, also about oneself!

Describe your conducting style.

I don’t know if I myself can entirely and satisfyingly describe my conducting style.

I love the connection with the musicians, the eye contact, the constant exchange of ideas and energy, the mutual inspiration. Maybe one general thing I could say is: Embracing the music and the orchestra.

With music being accessible at a click of a button, what do you think orchestras need to do to remain relevant and continue to attract new audiences?

Of course, there is no way to replace a live concert experience. This is the foundation of everything.

There is a big chance that a person who has had a great experience in a live concert will return to the concert hall.

I think we always need to keep thinking about and developing new ways and formats of concerts, also for a younger audience and especially of opening up and expanding the experience. 

One of my conducting teachers, Erwin Ortner (founder of the Arnold Schoenberg Choir), said that there is no closer way to experiencing music than to actually doing it yourself (playing/singing). I think this can be also an idea about creating new ways of attracting new audiences. Offering the possibility to explore.

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