Proclaimed by the New York Chronicle as the “king of his instrument”, Principal Horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, Stefan Dohr arrives at ANAM this week for a massive 2 week residency working alongside our ANAM musicians – and we couldn’t be more excited! We stole some time out of his busy schedule to ask him a few questions before he arrives:
What motivates and influences you as a musician?
My greatest motivation is that I profoundly love what I’m doing. Since childhood days I wanted to play the horn and I’m grateful I could make it my profession. But I’m also grateful for having a great family who has always supported me in what I’m doing. As for the influence I’d say that as a musician, I might be mostly influenced by contemporary composers. Music is a language, one that is still alive. It’s fascinating to be an immanent part of this ongoing genesis, to make audible what composers have created.
You have an extremely busy schedule with the Berlin Philharmonic plus solo performances, how do you find balance between all of your performing commitments?
Finding balance between orchestra and solo commitments is just a matter of organisation, I really like doing both. But I certainly couldn’t do it without the great support of my family. Actually it is my wife who keeps it all together!
Has the role of an orchestral musician changed across the time you’ve been at the Berlin Philharmonic?
Basically an orchestral musician is there to play the music that’s on the stand before them – that’s something that hasn’t changed. But of course the members of the Berlin Philharmonic have always had rights and responsibilities that did not apply to other orchestras. And while the needs and demands the Berlin Philharmonic has been facing over the last decades certainly have changed, naturally also the role of each orchestra member has developed. Therefore it is more than ever important for us to be involved in other projects. Chamber music, teaching, playing solo are the classics and they have been / are still / always will be essential. But new fields like education work, the digital concert hall, representing our work on social media etc. were sort of virgin soil we had to encounter. It’s been a great experience to be involved in these new fields as the entire structure of the orchestra’s outreach has been restructured. And the progress continuously goes on. It’s a challenge, but also a terrific chance, because it enables you to bring forward new talents.
The programs you have curated for ANAM are a mixture of classics and more contemporary works. Why did you select these particular pieces?
One of the basic questions you’ll come across when selecting pieces for a concert program is finding a balance between pieces the audience might be expecting to hear and pieces that might offer an interesting contrast to them. I think with some parts of the program we will go smoothly along the expectations the audience might have, but there might be some surprises in the concerts as well – hopefully good and inspiring surprises! Actually I found it quite challenging to combine programs for ANAM, because I wanted each piece to fit into the context. And of course I always wanted the ANAM musicians to be in the centre of the programming. One part of the program they play is standard chamber music repertoire, then there are thrilling pieces, unknown or at least not well known, which have to be presented with the same implicitness. A selection of little pieces which differ in mood, character and time periods and each requires a different approach.
Do you have any advice for musicians (such as those at ANAM) at the start of their professional careers?
Be convinced of what you’re doing. And be open to criticism. Try out all kinds of music and play in front of other people as often as you can.
What would you say to audiences attending the upcoming performances?
Listen without predjudice. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
Join Stefan Dohr and the ANAM Musicians for a range of upcoming concerts:
STEFAN DOHR: FANFARE & FANTASIES
SAT 27 MAY 7.30PM @ ANAM
MOSTLY MOZART 2: MOZART DANCES
TUE 30 MAY 11AM @ Melbourne Recital Centre
STEFAN DOHR: SERENADE
THU 1 JUNE 7.30PM @ ANAM
STEFAN DOHR: SERENADE
SAT 3 JUNE 7PM @ Queensland Conservatorium
STEFAN DOHR: SERENADE
SUN 4 JUNE 3PM @ Sydney Opera House
To purchase tickets or find out more, visit anam.com.au