Contemporary Orchestra


by Errollyn Wallen

This study takes a closer look at how a conductor approaches music by a living composer; examining not only how a conductor rehearses and performs this music but how the relationship between a composer and conductor is an important and valuable part of the process. Featuring Errollyn Wallen, (described by The Observer as [The] renaissance woman of contemporary British music)  we take a complete look into her work Horseplay from initial rehearsals all the way to performance

The work is a ballet for four male dancers. The composer’s idea of the horse as an archetype was the impetus of the work. Each movement has its own colour and word or image associated with horses: the first is “dark” and brooding, the second is “swift” and is a winged horse cutting brightly through the sky. The word for the third movement is “rocking” which sways beautifully but uneasily, and the fourth, “race”, gallops on to the climactic finishing post.

Here you can download a written analysis of the work which aims to elucidate its construction.

The video below is a short documentary featuring conductor Mark Heron and follows the critical moments in the rehearsal process including initial rehearsals, reflections and comments on the music and the process, rehearsals with the composer present, reflections and discussion with the composer.

Many thanks to Errollyn Wallen for working with us and sharing her thoughts!

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