Paul's Baroque Brunch with the Brandenburg's artistic team: Joanna and Alex

Alex, Joanna, Paul.JPG

Paul interviewed Brandenburg Librarian Alex Palmer and Artistic Director's Assistant Joanna Tondys about what makes the artistic program tick at the Brandenburg and the secret business of putting a program together. Welcome to Paul's Baroque Brunch!

Let's get this brunch started the right way: what's on the menu Joanna and Alex?
J: Well poached eggs are my favourite, but I think I'll go for my second favourite today: green eggs and ham! (scrambled eggs with fetta, pesto and crispy bacon, yum!)
A: I'll go for the full English, hold the bread, with poached eggs, delicious!
Divine options! We get lots of questions about how our artistic team works. Would you tell us a bit about your work at the Brandenburg?
A: One of the most important parts of my job is keeping our music collection in good shape, we have arguably the largest collection of period performance material in the southern hemisphere. So I spend lots of time organising and carefully packing away, you'd be surprised how often music is pulled out for a look! I also make new editions of compositions we need for concerts, when the original manuscripts are no longer easy to read due to their age or because they have been used so often, I copy the compositions so they are legible for our performers. I also support the orchestra particularly during rehearsals. 
J: I do lots of research with you when you are programming concerts, so I'm often working between two and five years ahead of the concert we are currently performing. We work together on artistic planning and research. I also work with Alex looking after the music collection and providing support to the orchestra, as well as answering questions my co-workers might have about the concerts.
Running the orchestra really is like a duck on a pond: lots of activity beneath the surface, smooth and graceful on top! Do you have a favourite part of your work?
J: Growing up in Poland there wasn't much access to recorded music, if I ever came across anything I would devour it! So being part of the Brandenburg is very special. I also get really excited about the discoveries we make together through research, and I especially like when I surprise you with a discovery!
A: I love seeing the music performed, seeing it brought off the printed page and into the concert hall, and the emotional impact that experience has on the audience, I love witnessing their response to such beautiful music. I really enjoy working with the musicians at rehearsal and the different interpretations we all bring to the music. I'm especially fond of us pioneering Hawaiian jazz on sackbut during Noël! Noël! last year, a brave and pivotal moment for the orchestra.
Can you give us a bit of an idea of your background? What brought you to the Brandenburg?
A: I've got a Bachelor of Music in Early Music and my Post Grad is in Music for Film and TV from Cambridge University (I spent quite a bit of time in England). Here's a fun fact: I'm the first staff member at the Brandenburg who is younger than the Brandenburg! 
J: I grew up in Poland and graduated with a Diploma of Music from the Music High School at Zdunska Wola. I always sang in my local choir and became interested in early music when I was studying. I continued my harpsichord studies in Australia at the Sydney Conservatorium, where I still work. I'm always juggling the Brandenburg and the Con! I'm lucky that not only do I work behind the scenes with the Brandenburg, but I perform with the orchestra too!
If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
J: I'm having so much fun being me, I couldn't possibly imagine being someone else!
A: Definitely the composer Dvořák, he led such an interesting life, he travelled so much, lived in glamorous New York at the turn of the century (the best time to be in New York), wrote such great music and everyone loved him. My second choice would be Taylor Swift, Tay Tay rules the world!
Do you have a bit of advice or a mantra that you live by?
A: Never worry about the things you can't change. If you can change it, do, if you can't, you have to let it go, otherwise you will miss out on the best bits of life.
J: The best bit of advice or guidance I got was from you: focus on what's important in your life. You wrote on three pieces of paper aspects of the old, present and future Joanna and we worked out where I wanted to be and how to get to future me, together. It was the most generous and revealing thing you have done for me. I still have those pieces of paper and revisit them when I need to. 
It's a special memory for me too. Thank you both for sharing brunch with me, now about Blazing Baroque.....
Introducing our 2016 Concertmaster
Shaun Lee-Chen

“Shaun Lee-Chen is one of the most exciting and inspired violinists of his generation”, says Paul Dyer.


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