We’re delighted that accomplished conductor Mark Austin will be joining our Artistic Director, Laura, to lead our Auditions Masterclass on the 26th August. We caught up with him to ask about his work and what he has to offer our workshop participants…
So, Mark, can you introduce yourself for our readers?
I’m a conductor, specialising in opera and orchestral repertoire. I work in the UK and abroad, currently involving a lot of assistant conducting as well as performances with my own Faust Chamber Orchestra, which I founded with colleagues while I was a student at the Royal Academy of Music.
How does your own experience and training inform the way you work with performers now?
I studied French and German at Cambridge, followed by a postgrad at the Royal Academy of Music. This blend of literature, languages and music inspires my approach a lot. To communicate every nuance of a score requires total immersion: one responsibility of a conductor is to try and help fill in the gaps for performers if they struggle to find their own way with the music. I never feel completely satisfied with my level of preparation – I think this is a healthy feeling when we are striving for the very best result.
What are your favourite things about your work?
Live performance is the most wonderful experience. Otherwise working with interesting colleagues, seeing new places, learning about incredible people of the past and discovering their music…the list is endless, really. I love coaching and teaching, as I usually learn a huge amount at the same time as passing on some helpful advice.
What are the most common issues you come across when auditioning singers?
Things that get in the way of success: lack of preparation, unhelpful choice of repertoire, awkward behaviour and presentation, failure to get the pianist on side. The more I work in opera the more I realise that a pragmatic approach to auditions is essential from singers: the number of factors that go into casting decisions is immense.
What should people expect from your workshop?
Honesty, positivity, a collaborative approach. It can be challenging to perform in an audition context in front of others but ultimately this can be a very constructive experience.
What do you hope participants will go away with after your workshop?
A renewed sense of confidence and enthusiasm for their own work, whatever stage they may be at, and a list of things to work hard on to take things to the next level. I hope the group experience will provide a lot of valuable insights and we can all learn from each other.