Catching up with Chris

We’re absolutely delighted that Christopher Stark is taking on the role of ERSO’s new Principal Conductor. Chris is best known as co-founder & co-Artistic Director of the RPS Award-winning Multi-Story Orchestra with whom he made a critically acclaimed BBC Proms debut in 2016.

We chatted to Chris to find out more….. And it turns out he’s started conducting ERSO at a young age!

What age were you when you decided that you would like to become a
conductor and what inspired this decision?

I began thinking about conducting quite young – my parents were both cellists, and it always seemed to me that the person in the middle had the opportunity to get so close to all of this exciting repertoire. I actually once had a quick go at conducting the Ernest Read Symphony orchestra when I was about 9, at one of the children’s concerts at the Festival Hall! But I caught the bug properly when at University. I wanted to put on Ravel’s Piano Concerto with a friend, and brought together lots of our group to put it on. I love the producer element of conducting, bring talented people together.

What instruments do you play and what makes conducting more
attractive to you than being a  player?
I play the piano and the cello, and I sang a lot growing up, both in operas and choirs. I’m not sure that conducting is more attractive, but I love the breadth of it – trying to zoom out and have the largest perspective possible.

What piece(s) do you dream of conducting one day in the future?
Peter Grimes

What is the funniest or strangest  thing that has happened to you
when conducting?
Playing a big amplified piece in Peckham Car park that has lots of electric and bass guitars, that is supposed to end with a thrilling fortissimo battle between the two sides of the ensemble (Andriessen’s De Staat). Not having a proper power supply in the car park, we were relying on a petrol generator which ran dry with 90 seconds to go, leaving us looking a bit ridiculous, working very hard but with very little sound coming out…

What are you most proud of in your conducting career?
I think I’m most proud of music education projects in Peckham. We’ve worked with some of the schools for 5 or 6 years, showing them an orchestra in their school and bringing them along to sing pieces with the Orchestra. It’s so exciting when you see children getting the buzz for great music, and also when they see an orchestra being part of the community as a normal thing.

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