MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH: BERNHARD GUELLER
September’s Musician of the Month is the Maestro himself – we are pleased to introduce you to the one and only Bernhard Gueller.
Since 2002 Bernhard Gueller has been music director of SNS. During this time, variously, he was also Music Director in Nuremberg, Germany, principal conductor of the Johannesburg Philharmonic, and principal guest conductor of the Victoria Symphony. He is currently principal guest conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Acclaimed not only for his interpretations, phrasing and excitement he brings to the podium, he “has established himself, over many years now, as a favoured conductor of both players and audiences, undoubtedly because of his carefully prepared but always musically rewarding performances, ” writes Weekendspecial.co.za. According to Die Burger in Cape Town, “The rendition of the Rachmaninov Symphony no 1 in d minor was full of passion with huge power and fervour. Maestro Gueller’s excellent insight breathed life into the work.”
Collaborations at a high level have been many, including with some of Canada’s foremost musicians such as James Ehnes, Jane Archibald, Jan Lisiecki, Janina Fialkowska, Anton Kuerti, Jon Kimura Parker and Marc Andre-Hamelin, along with other international stars such as Joshua Bell and Metropolitan Opera singers such as Pretty Yende and Johan Botha.
Beginning his career as a cellist, Gueller won the United German Radios Conducting Competition in 1979 and for nearly 20 years ran tandem careers, deputing for the legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache who regarded Gueller as his best “pupil.”
He has made many recordings for national and international broadcast, including three with SNS: Dancing in the Light, with works by Canadian composer, Christos Hatzis, works by Tim Brady, which won an East Coast Music award, and orchestrated lieder by Schumann featuring mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig.
1.What is your idea of perfect happiness? Now this is a difficult one. On the one hand, conducting Bruckner in a cathedral is sublime but happy? Reading and especially reading about music or coming across an old recording someone has posted on the internet of, for instance, Furtwangler conducting Beethoven.
2. Recording you would take to a desert island? The Schubert String Quintet, something I played often – the last times were in Halifax and Lunenberg with some terrific musicians!
3. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? That I, raised in Germany, cannot stand the taste of beer! Although most people would know that by now!
4. Any place in the world you have not yet visited, but would like to? The Pyramids, one of the most amazing achievements of humankind considering the time.
5. What/where is your favourite thing to eat? Seafood pasta.
6. Which composer (dead or alive) would you most like to share a meal with and why? Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner, because I have so many questions to ask them, beginning with “how did you do it?”
7. What are you most looking forward to this fall? Beethoven Nine of course, although there are so many exceptional concerts coming up!
8. What is your all-time favourite film? The Godfather and Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin.