Kate Suthers and Josh Oates reflect on the appointment of Mark Wigglesworth

30 May 2024
  • Meet the Artists
  • Musician Spotlight
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Kate Suthers and Josh Oates reflect on the appointment of Mark Wigglesworth

The appointment of Chief Conductor Mark Wigglesworth is an exciting time for everyone in the ASO community, none more so than our players! We sat down with Concertmaster Kate Suthers and Section Principal Oboe Joshua Oates to get their view on the announcement.

How do you feel about the appointment of Mark Wigglesworth as Chief Conductor?

Kate Suthers – I’m thrilled that Mark’s joining the artistic leadership of the ASO. He is so clearly respected by the orchestra, and I have no doubt that formalising that relationship will result in all kinds of growth, as well as extraordinary concerts.

Joshua Oates – I’m thrilled, honestly; I feel like this relationship has been a long time in the making, and this is the perfect next step.

Can you describe the role of a Chief Conductor from the perspective of a musician in the orchestra?

Kate – The role of Chief Conductor is crucial for an orchestra’s identity. They set the tone of the core artistic attributes of the ensemble. Do we value precision or flexibility in performance, is our sound clean or are we searching for visceral extremes? The Chief Conductor guides these attitudes like a head coach of a sports team. They can be the most demanding, encouraging and fierce collaborator, pushing the orchestra to their fullest potential.

Josh – For me, the Chief Conductor is an integral part of creating shared identity and vision through the lens of growth. I think in the arts or in fact in general, if we’re not alive and morphing/evolving then we’re lost. With the continuity and strong relationship with a Chief Conductor, we have the full equation that can foster this growth.

What qualities do you think are important in a Chief Conductor?

Kate –  A few things spring to mind when considering what qualities are important in a Chief Conductor; A clear and tangible musical identity, a good pair of ears and a knack for quick problem-solving.

Josh – It’s about connection; to the repertoire and their authentic interpretation of it, to us and bringing out the best of each individual in a challenging, demanding but safe and encouraging environment when everyone in the room is putting every inch of their being into that single moment, and their connection to the broader community – none of our arts organisations can exist in a bubble, we thrive and have meaning through our connections.

What are you looking forward to under the Chief Conductor leadership of Mark Wigglesworth?

Kate – I’m looking forward to collaborating regularly with a musician as thoughtful and intelligent as I perceive Mark to be. As Concertmaster I hope to be able to support, compliment and amplify Mark’s artistic vision, as much in the weeks that he’s in Adelaide as those that he’s not.

Josh – I’m really looking forward to experiencing personally for the first time the orchestra collectively come together to add more facets to our identity with his leadership.

In your opinion, what is the significance of the Chief Conductor position in at Adelaide Symphony Orchestra?

Kate – I think Mark’s appointment comes at an incredibly exciting time in the ASO’s life. There’s been a huge appetite for a Chief Conductor from musician and audience alike, and as such a huge opportunity to harness and unify all the energy and potential of the company. Watch this space…

Josh – It can be easy for us in Adelaide but also Australia to become isolated in the orchestral world, a Chief Conductor especially of Wigglesworth’s standing can really help put us on the map, but also to connect us to other musicians. Whether they’re composers, soloists, other conductors or orchestral musicians. I think people are also what connect us to you, our community. It could be us the musicians, or a new and exciting Chief Conductor. I also think this is the final piece of the puzzle of our recovery from the Pandemic, we all became so isolated at that time but I feel that it really threw into the spotlight how far away we are and disconnected us from the thriving world of orchestral music globally.

Don’t miss seeing Mark Wigglesworth in action this year at Symphony Series 6 – Reflection before he takes up the role of Chief Conductor in 2025.

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