Serenade Team: You have performed in practically every style of the Choral repertoire ranging from the Gregorian chant to the 21st century. Do you have a personal stylistic preference?
David Hill: I don’t have a stylistic preference or, indeed, favourite composer as I have always felt deep connections with everything from Victoria through Mahler to the present day. As a conductor you need to embrace as much as possible.
ST: In most countries in Asia, art music from the 20th and 21st century has not gained the kind of popularity of music from earlier periods. What kind of audience response have you experienced when performing modern works?
DH: Music from the 20/21st centuries has been seminal for the classical music movement and yet I realise why it is a struggle for many to understand. It entered new sound worlds and not always easy to understand or grasp. And yet, I think the music from these centuries has shaped me as a musician. I am passionate about the contemporary and it’s relationship with the past. Done well, contemporary music engages all if it has a message, admittedly not always easy to understand. Great art needs to challenge as much as pacify.
ST: One of the works you will be conducting during your forthcoming India tour is by Reena Esmail and it incorporates both Western classical and Hindustani classical idioms. Are you familiar with the Indian classical tradition and given that it is so different from the Western idiom, how do you think these work together?
DH: I am becoming increasingly engaged and interested in Hindustani culture as a result of Reena’s wonderful work which brings together our cultures in a very telling way.
ST: In recent times it has become almost fashionable to talk of authentic performances using instruments of a particular period. Do you think that the spirit and sound of the Baroque period can also be conveyed equally effectively through the instruments that we use today?
DH: Baroque practice is hugely important as is representing music from any period and culture in a telling, intellectual manner. I adore the sounds the copies of instruments make and look forward to them working in the genre for which they are designed and coming together with a work that is contemporary. Ask me after if it worked!
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