5 Minutes with Mark Wigglesworth

4 Jun 2024
  • Meet the Artists
  • Musician Spotlight
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
5 Minutes with Mark Wigglesworth

Earlier this year we announced the exciting news that Mark Wigglesworth will be our Chief Conductor from 2025. He shared some insight into how he sees his new role with the ASO and what he hopes to achieve.

I have been working with the ASO for over ten years and it’s fair to say we already know each other pretty well!

I think we connect through a shared vision of how we want music to sound and I am thrilled that being able to express that vision to audiences across South Australia on a more regular basis will only increase its resonance.  

A Chief Conductor is in a privileged position to influence the musical experience of all who feel part of what the ASO do. I see the role as one that honours the past, reflects the present, and inspires the future. An orchestra is a large group of people, all of whom need to feel free to express themselves whilst at the same time feeling part of a unified vision of artistic identity. I hope to be able to inspire that individuality without sacrificing the unanimity that performances need if they are to speak with the power of one voice. 

Ultimately music is about people, and I have high hopes that as the understanding between the musicians and myself continues to grow, so too will the musical experiences of all those who choose to listen to us. 

All orchestras are unique and are defined significantly by the community they serve. In that sense, classical concerts throughout the world are almost always local events.  

Chief Conductor Designate Mark Wigglesworth conducting the ASO at Adelaide Town Hall, 2019

The quality of musicians in the ASO is indisputable

And the commitment they show to those in the audience is a reflection of their immense pride in what they do and who they play for. 

I believe the wider the variety of music we hear, the more we appreciate whatever it is we are listening to at the time. Orchestras have only existed for a couple of hundred years and yet the range of music they play is extraordinary. I hope to develop programmes that reflect that diversity whilst at the same time offering performances of more familiar music that prove how endlessly fascinating these acknowledged masterpieces are. Of course new music matters a great deal – hearing something for the first time rewards our curiosity and increases the value of our perspective – but all music is new at the moment it is being played. A concert hall can never be a museum because the experience is always as unique as the unique combination of people who are playing it for the unique combination of people who are listening. I want our performances to be a celebration of the moment, whether the music is familiar or not. 

ASO performing at Adelaide Town Hall, 2024

Music is a cultural force.

That force is one that the whole community can feel part of, whether as young musicians learning their instruments, teachers passing on their own expertise, amateur musicians maintaining their passion for playing, or music lovers experiencing the thrill of being part of a performance simply by being there. South Australia needs a building that can honour the totality of what music means, one in which everyone who loves music can feel a sense of ownership of the experience. The ASO can help lead and curate a Centre for Music as a place that unites people whatever age, background, or circumstance. A Centre for Music can be a centre for everyone, a space that brings people together as equal partners in the experience of shared emotions, reflections, and dreams. 

It is rather a cliché to say that every challenge is an opportunity, but I do believe that music is a powerful force for good and that societies across the whole world need, now more than ever, what live music can bring. We live in supposedly hyper-connected times and yet I wonder if, in fact, we have never been so disconnected and remote. Remote from each other and even, perhaps, from ourselves. Technology offers an escape from the real world around us. It allows us to hide from an internal reality too. 

Music is not an escape from reality. It is an escape to reality!

Tutti Violin Janet Anderson & Audience Members at The Bush Concert, 2024

A live orchestral concert provides an opportunity to shed our isolation and connect with the emotions that music stirs within us and, maybe even more importantly, to share that connection with others. The empathy that this increases has the potential to be transformative. We should not shy away from making that claim and we should promote as loudly as we can the fact that music can change people’s lives. 

Music is about who we are and who we can be, and being part of an audience is to take an active part in something unique, something that we cannot experience anywhere else and something that can change who we are and how we choose to live. 

Words by Mark Wigglesworth.

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