Alexander Shelley on The Architecture of Music [The Knowledge Project Ep. #9]

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On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about the architecture of music with conductor Alexander Shelley. Out of all the amazing conversations I’ve had, this might be my favorite.

Shelley is currently chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

In this fascinating interview, we discuss:

  • How Alexander prepares himself before stepping on stage (and how his process changes depending on the music the orchestra will play)
  • Why live performances create a powerful and almost spiritual experience
  • The delicate relationship between audience, orchestra, and conductor and how balancing them is like a beautiful dance
  • How to manage the egos, personalities, and different playing styles of 80 world-class musicians on any given night
  • How the structures of music have changed over the years, and how our ears still recognize shapes and patterns in any piece from any era
  • Why Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is so popular (Alexander breaks down the DNA of the song and how all music has its own unique “cell structure.” This alone is worth listening to the interview)
  • Why the sciences and the arts are inseparable and should be studied, practiced and revered hand in hand
  • How familiarity with music history allows you to appreciate and enjoy any piece of music (even current pop hits) at a whole new level

Whether you’re someone who always has music playing, or just occasionally taps your fingers on the steering wheel when the occasional tune comes on, you’re going to absolutely love this episode. I can’t say enough about it.

Enjoy the interview!

Listen

Transcript

A complete transcript is available for members.