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Nick Collon Interview

Posted on 01 May 2008. © Copyright 2004-2020 Composition:Today

C:T talks to Nick Collon, conductor and founder member of The Aurora Orchestra. Nick was recently awarded a prestigious Arts Foundation Fellowship 2008 and regularly programs new music with his orchestra.

Nick Collon
Tell us something about your background.

My instruments were viola, piano organ, and I sing a bit too. I was an organ scholar at Cambridge, and have been conducting ever since. I do increasing amounts of opera, and work with various orchestras as well.

Tell us about the Aurora Orchestra , how it was formed, it's raison d'etre.

Aurora Orchestra was founded in 2004 by myself and another conductor, Robin Ticciati. It's based on a core of 15 principal players; string quintet with a wind quintet, brass soloists, percussion and keyboard. The result is a flexible ensemble; we aim to champion the wonderful and varied repertoire of the 20th century alongside intimate performances of well-known masterpieces and revealing arrangements of large-scale symphonic works.

Does the group focus on playing specific types of music?

We like to programme not just contemporary music, but also unusual or unknown repertoire from any period, such as Schreker and Hindemith from the 1920's.

How do you go about programming your concerts?

We try to come up with themes, from which we attempt to find repertoire that challenges, and repertoire that appeals to a broader public. We often collaborate with other art forms, which can be a useful starting block.

How do you respond to unsolicited work- do you give feedback? Do you ever commission new work yourself?

We do commission new work, as much as we can. I see that as a necessary avenue to musical exploration. We have done new pieces by Nico Muhly, Tobias Brostrom, Chris Willis and James Williamson.
I try to respond to unsolicited work, but we do get a lot of it, and we're a small administrative team!

What do you see as the role (intended and actual) of new music in the modern world?

To challenge aural preconceptions, to inspire, to expand the canon of 600+ years music ever wider

Is it a good time to be running a new music ensemble?

We try not to look at ourselves as a 'new music ensemble,' rather a versatile group of players that can turn their hands to a large repertoire. I think we're going to do some Rameau this year!
It's hard, and certainly harder than the 60's/70's, to set up a group, particularly with funding, but I think if you're saying something new and interesting, then people listen.

What advice would you give to a young composer just starting out?

Make sure the finished product is well presented. I do so many new works which are difficult to read, or sloppy in terms of detail. I reckon the actual look of a piece makes about 50% of the immediate impression an orchestral player takes away from a new piece.
And try to come up with something new and individual - so much music is created, structure and built in the same way. Think, how can this stand out?

Tell us about the Orchestra's current projects

We've got a busy summer - a concert on June 8th in the Royal cademy of Music (including Ligeti's Piano Concerto with Rolf Hind) a concert in the Wigmore Hall, the BBC Young Composers Competition.....

What are your plans for the future?


How can people find out more about you?

Interview by Composition:Today © Copyright 2004-2020

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