Magazine article Opera Canada

Nathan Brock

Magazine article Opera Canada

Nathan Brock

Article excerpt

"What am I doing this season? People ask me and I can't remember. That's how much stuff comes and goes every month."

Nathan Brock is on a roll at the Hamburgische Staatsoper (Hamburg State Opera), where he has been Kapellmeister since 2015. The multilingual conductor (he speaks Spanish, French, German and Polish) attended the University of Toronto and later, Zurich University of the Arts. A protege of Kent Nagano, Brock has led a number of orchestras in France and Italy, and conducted at Komische Oper Berlin and Royal Swedish Opera, as well as the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Quebec, Edmonton, Nova Scotia, Victoria and Thunder Bay.

Balancing new productions and revivals, old works and new, dance and symphonic repertoire, is no small feat. "As a conductor, yes, it's about focusing on quality and getting good performances and making sure singers are comfortable so they can have a great performance, but it can still be frustrating."

The number of performances Brock leads over the course of one season is mind-boggling; in the latter half of 2017 alone, he conducted works by Berg, Offenbach, and Puccini; a dance program in Sweden and, a concert with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. So far in 2018, he's leaned into an ever-heavier schedule in Hamburg, and is balancing that with Canadian appearances--in Toronto, at the Glenn Gould School (for Die Fledermaus), and a symphonic program at Montreal's Maison Symphonique. "I have to look at my calendar to remember what I'm doing," he says wryly.

In 2009, Brock joined the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, where he was Resident Conductor for five seasons. He was awarded Quebec's Prix Opus for his initiatives in revitalizing the orchestra's programs for young people, a cause he clearly cares about. Being in Germany has inspired some striking observations on audiences. "Berlin has this very youthful, vibrant quality to it, but it's a very different city to Hamburg or Munich, which is full of stodgy old money," he says. "A concert at the Montreal Symphony or the Toronto Symphony Orchestra--there are a lot of young people in the audience, and at the COC and National Ballet too."

However, the centrality of the classical arts to everyday German life is noticeable. "It's big news when you do a premiere, it's not just stuck on the last page of the arts section in the paper," Brock notes. "It's something that is still considered by the people who are writing and reading to be a vital part of everyday life. It's not something operating in its own universe, or within a bubble for a particular class of people. …

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