Blog / Meet Benjamin Schmid

Meet Benjamin Schmid

Posted on 24 Mar 2015 by Neall Kriete

We caught up with ACO2 Guest Director Benjamin Schmid to chat about the upcoming tour ‘Around the World’ (which tours to Armidale, Bellingen, Mullumbimby, the Gold Coast, Nambour, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Redland this May) – see what we found out.

You’ve worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras. What are some of your highlights, and why?

Some highlights: Vienna Philharmonic with Seiji Ozawa – Japan Phil with Seiji, because Seiji was incredibly alert when accompanying, and Vienna Phil has glamour in the sound … Rotterdam Phil (and Vienna Phil ) with Valery Gergiev, because they are bounded together like a family. Philharmonia London, not only for providing the most accurate first rehearsals (under Roger Norrington, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Frans Brüggen); Concertgebouw Amsterdam for greatest atmosphere in their hall … and definitely ACO, for being the most up-to-time Chamber Orchestra of today! Perfection, spirit, know-how of styles, challenging programming, perfect organisation: just like it should be!

Can you tell us some of the works you’ve selected, and how they relate to the theme ‘Around the World’?

I chose Bach’s E major concerto for being a most classy classic, and it unfolds a second movement which is a notated improvisation of the solo violin over a bass obstinate in c# minor, which is eternal in its incredible beauty and quiet longing.

I have always been a fan of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Souvenir de Florence’ – very few composers can build up energy as compelling and merciless and huge and beautiful as Tchaikovsky, and to experience that with an elite ensemble like the ACO will be an essential sensation!

Samuel Barbers ‘Adagio for strings’ is as popular as it is beautiful and it takes us to the music of the United States.

The ‘Metropoles Suite’ by Austrian Jazz composer Herbert Berger connects several worlds: the tradition of chamber music in Europe with American Jazz, in the second movement we experience some tango feel, and the third movement displays a charming ‘Musette’, inspired by French Manuche Music. All is wrapped up in exquisite ensemble arranging – with fascinating harmonies, forms, sounds. I am very much looking forward to perform that piece, as it shows my true passion for jazz arrangements – I will also improvise on those charts – and it features a very accessible but classy contemporary composer.

Can you give us some background on this extraordinary ensemble: ACO2?

I will be working with ACO2 the first time, but as far as I know, professional ACO players join with young graduates – so it should be a most inspiring mix of experience and fire!

What would you like audiences to take away from the experience of this program?

My aim is always that people walk out of my concerts just a bit happier than when they came in.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?

I would like to have studied law – then I would understand the contracts I am signing constantly for concerts, recordings, mobile phones etc. …

Which book do you think everybody should read?

In my opinion there is not ‘the one book’, but everybody should read the human rights. Besides that I recommend Der Zauberberg by Thomas Mann.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Either Violinmaker – I loved to be in the violins workshop and smell fresh wood, or violinist. Sorry not very surprising.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Kevin Spacey, of course. Needs to practice the violin before, though.

If you could only perform the music of one composer for the rest of your life, who would it be?

My own – it would be the ultimate incentive to compose more.

Around the World with Benjamin Schmid and ACO2