Interview with conductor Fiona Ellis

The conductor is obviously a vital part of any choir, so in order for you to get to know our association a bit better, we asked our conductor Fiona Ellis a few questions.

Could you tell us a bit about your background? What brought to the Netherlands?

I studied music in the US at Westminster Choir College and I got a master’s degree in choral conducting there. After that I wanted to find work as a singer, but primarily as a freelance conductor, and that was more easily done in Europe than the US. Fortunately the Netherlands is a country that, despite decreasing subsidies for the arts, still supports the arts quite well, choirs especially. I’ve heard a lot of people say that there are more choirs per capita than football teams, and I found that too: there’s a huge choir culture here, even more so than in the States.

What’s been your favourite concert with us, as of now?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say the Mozart Mass in C Minor, the Great Mass. It was so well put on and the singers were extremely engaged. I prefer the concerts where we have a longer rehearsal period, so that by concert point we can really present a finished product. Not just for the audience in terms of quality, but also because at that point the singers have immersed themselves in the music to the point that they feel extremely connected with it, comfortable with it, they know it inside-out, so they can perform it at a very high level.

What are your future plans for the choir, some points of focus, expectations?

I hope we can do music similarly to what I just explained with regards to the Mozart Mass. Not necessarily because of the composer or style, but the concept of performance that’s of high quality. Sometimes our singers have a tendency to want to rush and do too much in a short span of time, but I think that when our singers really get to know a work it’s a much more fulfilling and satisfying experience for everyone.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming concert with Noviomagum Wind Orchestra?

It’s a very exciting concert because this repertoire is so different for our choir. The choir is more accustomed to doing the typical composers of the classical canon: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and this is completely outside of that box. I think it’s a fun opportunity for our singers to get to know repertoire that they never would have sung otherwise. It’s also always a great experience for singers to partner with an orchestra. Especially now that we have a lot of singers who are new to the choir, some even new to classical singing altogether, to have a first concert be with a big wind & brass ensemble, singing Bernstein to honour one of the best modern composers of all time. I’m very excited for it to come together!

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