Magazine article Gramophone

David Bintley: The Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet on Playing the Double Bass, His Stravinsky Obsession and Working with Composer Sally Beamish

Magazine article Gramophone

David Bintley: The Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet on Playing the Double Bass, His Stravinsky Obsession and Working with Composer Sally Beamish

Article excerpt

Both my parents had been good pianists when they were young, and my dad had his own jazz band. They used to rehearse at our house and when I was very little I'd sit beneath the drum. My mum was in the band as well--she'd jump between piano and bass. I started learning double bass at school but I couldn't get anywhere close to her standard. I learnt piano too, but when it's your parents teaching you, it starts getting personal. I persuaded them I was too busy dancing to carry on. I bitterly regretted that later, of course.

At 11 or 12, I saw Petrushka and got very into Stravinsky. I remember an art lesson at school when we brought in records so we could 'paint' the music. Most people brought in pop music--I chose The Rite of Spring. The riot at the premiere was nothing compared to the riot in that class! I choreographed my first amateur piece at the age of 16 to The Soldier's Tale. I was already realising that being a choreographer was of far greater interest to me than my activities as a dancer.

The greatest thing is working with a composer and commissioning new work. Nothing comes close to collaborating for that length of time: a new ballet is often two or three years in the making. You're conspirators, no one knows what's happening except the two of you--and sharing it makes it even better than working on your own.

It always starts with an idea--that's what leads me to a particular composer. With Cyrano, I'd commissioned a score from Wilfred Josephs for the 1991 production but it didn't really work out. Having known Carl Davis's work for a long time, I suddenly realised--here's someone who can rescue that piece. That's how we came to do the second version of Cyrano in 2007. And from that, Aladdin came about. I had no desire to do that ballet, but once I heard Carl's music I changed my mind.

I'd wanted to do The Tempest for more than 30 years, but it was only when I heard Sally Beamish's music on Radio 3's Composer of the Week back in 2012 that I realised she was the composer to make it happen. I thought, I've been missing someone here--so I carried on listening to the programme for the rest of the week. I knew I wanted to work with her, so I contacted her and everything just came together. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.