As a classical conductor and cross-genre curator, André De Ridder is at the forefront of a wave of artists pushing orchestral music in new and exciting directions. His interest in a broad range of music – from These New Puritans to operatic compositions – is helping many to reconsider the possibilities of composition in our culturally fertile modern age. Ahead of his December 4th appearance alongside Max Richter at our London Spitalfields Winter Music Festival playback of Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi ‘The Four Seasons, we caught up with André for a quick chat about classical music, innovation and collaboration.

Tickets for CAS Presents Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi ‘The Four Seasons’ with special guests Max Richter and André de Ridder are available here.

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Electronic and classical composition have been closely aligned for decades, and your work continues that tradition. But in your experience do you feel that these forms are always naturally compatible? Or does it often require a great deal of creative compromise on both sides to feel right?

I don’t think compromise is required or desired at all! Composition as such obviously happens in both electronic as well as acoustic classical music, there is only a difference in method. Electronics can be a part or extension of classical orchestration, and vice versa classical instruments can add layers to electronic music just as in the synthesis of electronic music – but in an obviously more live, human and welcomely imprecise manner. To feel right means maybe to not try and mimic or replace each other but to create a dialogue and complement each other. Of which there are a myriad of possibilities. 

Do you think merging with electronic music alters people’s preconceptions on the accessibility of classical music? Or, if done poorly, can it entrench them further?

Ironically I have seen not so well done projects that people still got into and enjoyed. It’s a little ‘en vogue‘ at the moment, and such concerts are usually very well attended. And this cannot harm classical music’s reputation, although purist stalwarts of classical music may fear so. I think it’s positive and as competition grows, less well done or ‘for-the-sale-of-it’ projects may well disappear more quickly.

Listen: Classic Album Sundays and Spitalfields Music present Max Richter & André de Ridder Interview

So do you think it’s important that classical composition continues to embrace new technology? Have you experienced any resistance to this within the industry?

I have experienced more curiosity than resistance.

How do you see this development progressing in the future? Will traditional genre boundaries become a thing of the past?

Within the audiences I think there is a chance that boundaries will blur more, if not disappear. But stylistically there will still be boundaries and that’s okay because I think it’s more important that genres and performances can co-exist in a sympathetic setting and be taken equally seriously and be valued as equally interesting and worthwhile artistic/musical expressions.

Does this tie in with where you are hoping to take your own work as a conductor?

Yes, I love to be able to present an evening with a Bartók orchestral piece and a post-punk band in the same line-up (though not really conducting both). In most cases the point is not to mash-up styles and ensembles, but to contrast and complement, to create a bigger picture. So as a conductor I also feel a responsibility as a curator, which in my case is happening naturally more and more anyway.

By Owen Jones

Check out ‘An introduction to Tom Skinner’