Matthew Coorey to conduct CSO at the Cinema

Coorey’s direction was first rate … This was a superlative performance.
The Age, Melbourne

Matthew Coorey began his conducting career as Assistant Conductor to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra which lead to him being appointed the RLPO’s Conductor in Residence. He has since appeared with major orchestras all over the world including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Seattle Symphony, the Polish National Radio Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Australian orchestras and many others. Full bio

Matthew chats to the CSO about the role of music in film, ahead of his 2021 appearance with the Canberra Symphony for CSO at the Cinema.

As a conductor, you’ve worked across a range of art forms, from orchestral music to dance and rock.
What characterises the experience of conducting a symphony orchestra for you? What do you most enjoy about it?

My experiences in dance and rock are really just as a guest – a very classical musician occasionally jumping the fence!

A conductor is a live action collaborator; the joy of working with a top orchestra like the CSO is sharing their performance. I feel that I mostly shape what’s in front of me as there’s so much musicianship, virtuosity and personality in any big group, I really get to pick and choose.

Of course, there are difficult passages that need picking apart but at other times, there’s a miraculous sort of group understanding – like a flock of starlings!

Are there any particular considerations when it comes to conducting film music?

I don’t think so. Of course, you want to have a good idea of the context, but if you’re performing something in concert you just want to work in that space and time.

Describe the significance of music in the context of film.

Wow! That’s an encyclopedia of discussion!

Perhaps the best way of answering that question is to suggest looking at some of the great film scenes without music – it’s shocking how dull they often seem!

Hitchcock thought Psycho was going to be a flop; he credited Herrmann with rescuing the film. Incredibly, the only instruction Hitchcock gave to Herrmann was to leave the shower scene unscored!

Do any of these films hold special meaning for you?

Of course! For every kid born in the 70s, Star Wars is a sort of rite of passage. It’s still one of the great film scores.

Hitchcock is one of my favourite directors and I think his collaboration with Herrmann is the greatest in director / composer history.

If you could meet one of the composers on the CSO Gala program, who would it be?

I have met and worked with Nigel Westlake before; he is a delightful and brilliant mind. His oboe concerto is one of the best pieces of recent years, it’s just superb!

Of the rest, I think Gershwin would be great fun. Hopefully, I could get him to improvise at the piano!

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