Richard Egarr, musical hero without socks
He prefers to stand barefoot in front of the orchestra, but from behind the harpsichord he also knows how to enthuse his musicians. Permanent guest conductor Richard Egarr has been a welcome guest at the Residentie Orkest for years : 'With this orchestra I can push boundaries.'
On his Facebook profile, Richard Egarr describes himself as a "music addict. The English harpsichordist and conductor spends most of his time on stage. In addition to being a regular guest conductor of the Residentie Orkest , he is Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, Artistic Partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Music Director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. In his spare time, he collects old recordings on vinyl and historical scores. 'I'm just a music freak,' Egarr says. 'I also enjoy listening to genres other than classical, including pop and jazz. Fortunately, music is the only addiction I have.'
Soon Egarr and the Residentie Orkest will be taking care of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and his Violin Concerto. 'I have only conducted the Violin Concerto once before, the Fourth Symphony on the other hand several times. This symphony is - quite unjustly - often underrated. Probably because the piece is sandwiched between the groundbreaking "Eroica" and Beethoven's over-familiar Fifth. The Fourth Symphony goes through an interesting development; after a slow atmospheric introduction, a light and humorous work follows. The bassoon part alone is to be savoured, and also very tricky. Fortunately, I could not wish for a better bassoon section than that of the Residentie Orkest.'
Egarr feels a close bond with the musicians of the Residentie Orkest. 'Nothing is too crazy for them. This orchestra loves a challenge and is open to new ideas. The fact that the Residentie Orkest dares to program adventurously has an incredible added value. It gives me the freedom to come up with new initiatives and introduce special repertoire. For example, I think it would be great to perform the 'Concerti Grossi' by the baroque composer Corelli in large ensemble. Nowadays his music is usually performed by small ensembles, whereas in those days - at least, when there was enough money - Corelli preferred to take the stage with an orchestra of a hundred.'
Egarr did not come from a musical litter, but knew at an early age that he wanted to play the piano. Then he was accepted into the famous boys' choir at York Minster. "We sang an average of about nine masses a week; it was at that choir school that my musical foundation was laid. Egarr studied harpsichord, including in Amsterdam with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt, and is a sought-after chamber musician, soloist and teacher. But conducting also beckoned. 'As a conductor, I have a much broader musical palette at my disposal. Try playing legato or crescendo on a harpsichord, it's just not possible. In that respect, the harpsichord is the most unmusical instrument on this planet!'
Egarr will usher in 2022 with Mozart's Requiem , performed at Amare by the Residentie Orkest and Capella Amsterdam. 'To conduct one of the most beautiful compositions in one of the most beautiful halls in the world, that is simply a gift. So I can't imagine a better way to start the new year.'