Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and pursue a career in music?
I was taught the piano by my Mum and my Grandad when I was little. They really got me into music. My music teachers when I was at school were also really important in inspiring my love for music and when I got to University and began conducting, Mark Heron and Justin Doyle were very encouraging. Noone ever told me to take up conducting, but I thought I’d enjoy doing it so I gave it a go and University and I never looked back!
Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life?
I think the biggest influence for me at the moment is going to concerts that I have nothing to do with! It’s easy to forget to go to concerts for pleasure when your life and your ‘job’ is making music. Whenever I go to concerts that I’ve had nothing to do with, I always feel inspired; whether it’s because a piece in the programme particularly inspired me or because watching people making music is inspiring!
What, for you, is the most challenging part of being a conductor? And the most fulfilling aspect?
The most challenging thing for me is accepting that I’ve done enough preparation before I go to the first rehearsal. Quite simply, you can never know everything about a piece and there’s always more to learn!
The most fulfilling aspect is the feeling of making music with the players or singers in front of you, whether that’s in a rehearsal or in a performance.
As a conductor, how do you communicate your ideas about a work to the orchestra?
I try my best to communicate as much as I can through my gestures in rehearsal. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to explain with words!
How exactly do you see your role? Inspiring the players/singers? Conveying the vision of the composer?
I see my role as being one part of the ensemble. The players and singers will all have an interpretation to bring to the piece we’re rehearsing, so it’s important for me to consolidate my views about how the music should be played and how it’s sounding in the room at the moment. It’s a game of give and take really! Of course, I want to convey the voice of the composer and be true to what they wrote on the page as well. As the designated ‘leader’ in the rehearsal room and performance, it’s important to bring the right energy to the music and ensure I’m inspiring the players and singers so we’re all making the best music we can.
Is there one work which you would love to conduct?
There are many..! But I would love to conduct Belshazzar’s Feast and Mahler 8
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
That really depends on what the concert is. I love performing with my chamber choir, Kantos, in various churches with amazing acoustics for choral music – we sang in absolutely stunning churches in Rome and Assisi when we went to record there. In Manchester, we’re so lucky to have the Bridgewater Hall and I’m looking forward to conducting the Hallé Youth Orchestra in there this year.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
I was so lucky to have masterclasses with Sir Mark Elder when I was studying at the RNCM; I find him a very inspiring musician.
My favourite composers this week are Sibelius and Pärt, but ask me next week and it will be different!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Making exciting music both in rehearsals and performances whatever the piece or the group or the level!
Ellie Slorach is a conductor based in the North West. She graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with a masters degree with distinction in conducting in 2018 after studying music at the University of Manchester.
Ellie is the Musical Director of Radius Opera, Chester Festival Chorus and Stafford Choral Society and the Associate Conductor of Manchester Chamber Choir. In 2015 she founded Kantos Chamber Choir. With Kantos, Ellie has been the director and chorus master for numerous recordings and performances including with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic on labels including Decca Classics. Ellie regularly directs for the BBC Radio 4 Daily Service and Sunday Worship broadcasts and directed Kantos in Rome and Assisi for broadcasts last summer.
In 2018, Ellie was on the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme studying conducting with Marin Alsop and the Women’s Conductors course run by the Royal Opera House and the National Opera Studio. She was recently selected to work with the BBC Philharmonic in a masterclass and studio concert and in June 2018 she was a prize-winner in Romania at the Gheorghe Dima International Choir Conducting Competition.
This year, Ellie is the Young Associate Conductor for New Adventures which will see her on tour with their new production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
Having previously worked with many of the Hallé’s ensembles including the Hallé Choir, Ellie looks forward to taking up the role of Musical Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra for the 2019-20 season. She will also give her debut concert performance with Manchester Chamber Choir in the autumn, as well as touring a première production with Radius Opera.