Q & A with Coralia Galtier

Q & A with Coralia Galtier
By Bethany Tillerson (photo credit: © Conny Klein)

Monday Night at the Symphony presents the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. I spoke with Coralia Galtier, the orchestra’s Business Development Manager, about the history of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

What would you say is one of the best performances the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has given?

Galtier: I think one of the most memorable performances of the Orchestra (there were MANY!) was playing Beethoven’s symphonies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, which led to an award-winning reference recording of the symphonies released by Warner back in 1991.

Dane Roberts, double-bassist, reminisced about that monumental recording session.

The first rehearsals in October 1986 took place in a musty recording studio in the bowels of the Wiener Konzerthaus. At the time no one could have foreseen the outcome of this venture. The similarities and differences of modern orchestral instrumentarium and that of our 18th- and 19th-century counterparts were also reconsidered in regards to developing a playing style (our use of historically-oriented brass and timpani being the most obvious aspect of this). 

“The ‘Pastoral’ Symphony with its clear programme was perhaps the most eye-opening example. ‘The Scene at the Brook’ or ‘the Thunderstorm’, for example, were alive with the flow and power of “nature” as we had collectively never experienced it in this music before.

“The concept that ‘beauty is on the edge of safety (or catastrophe)’ has been proposed to us by Harnoncourt since the very beginning with regard to taking technical risks for the sake of musical expression. More than a revelation for us, this idea is a confirmation of a basic musical credo which the COE and Harnoncourt always had in common. Ultimately, every player in the Orchestra must decide the risk he or she is willing to take for the collective effort.”

What are the best qualities of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe as a group? 

Galtier: The best qualities of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe are that it is an orchestra whose players listen to each other, and they all play in a chamber music style rather than following a conductor’s baton. They are all absolutely passionate about music and love making music together. 

There is no routine because the players all work for other orchestras or as professors of music somewhere else in Europe, and they only come together once a month for a tour or a project. They are always really excited to get together again and to work with high-profile world-class artists such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andras Schiff, Robin Ticciati, Antonio Pappano, Janine Jansen, etc. Because the players work in other ensembles and have different musical and cultural backgrounds, they bring all this to the COE, which becomes a place where people exchange ideas, learn from each other and the artists they work with, and then bring back what they have learnt to their own orchestras and pupils.

It is important to note that the COE was the very first professional orchestra of its kind when it was created by its own players back in 1981. There is a real sense of ownership from the players, as we still have a number of founding members in our ranks.

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