Camerata Venia is made up of young professional musicians from the French-speaking region of Switzerland. The orchestra gives them the opportunity to showcase their talent alongside renowned artists and to play a unique repertoire.
This year’s last concert, entitled, “Discoveries and Reunions” was meant to take place on 23 November but could not be performed live because of the local pandemic restrictions. Instead, it has been recorded and broadcast on Camerata Venia’s YouTube channel.
Three questions to the Camerata Venia’s conductor
How do you decide on the programme for a concert?
I think about us and about the audience. I bring together pieces to make the programme both original and challenging. I’m often told that our programmes are beautiful and interesting because they reveal little-known works. We could just sit back and play the classics, but our professional pride pushes us to explore a wide variety of repertoires.
When do you rehearse?
Once the programme is finalised, we reach out to musicians – who mostly come from Switzerland, but some also from Lyon, Paris or Berlin. They’re all professionals who, by and large, are just starting out in their careers: Camerata Venia gives them the chance to get experience, to network and to build up their repertoires. One month before a concert, we send them the scores for them to practice.
Rehearsals take place in Geneva and are concentrated into the two days just before a concert, which involves a great deal of physical and emotional commitment. The greatest challenge is not one of musical technique – all the musicians play to an extremely high standard – but rather one of cohesion: you have to trigger the chemistry within the ensemble. As conductor, I have to make the musicians love the works so that they will enjoy playing them.
You often arrange the works you perform. What does that involve?
Our repertoire is made up of several components. Original works are performed by the number of players for which they were originally composed. Others, like Bach’s concerts, can be played with smaller or larger ensembles, depending on the size of the room they’re being performed in.
Then there’s a repertoire that I arrange so that it can be played by fewer musicians. Generally, a large symphony orchestra has two to three flutes, two oboes, two clarinets and two bassoons in its wind section, whilst in the brass section there are four French horns, two or three trumpets, three trombones and three tubas. In one of my arrangements, for example, I would keep only six woodwind and six brass instruments, but I always strive to preserve the quality of the work.