Meet Concert Master Benjamin Marquise Gilmore

Concert Master Benjamin Gilmore in suit smiling.

Ahead of our concert András Schiff: a Feast of Mozart, we spoke to Benjamin Marquise Gilmore about Mozart and his role as a Concert Master.


You’ve performed in Salzburg, where Mozart grew up – does that give you a deeper insight into his music?

The times I‘ve played there, especially when it was Mozart, I was usually so nervous that the memory of it just a blur, but that may indeed come from the atmosphere of the city and the knowledge of its history.

It‘s also a place where the question of how to interpret Mozart‘s music has been gone into by individuals and ensembles more often and in more depth than anywhere else, perhaps even more than Vienna. When I had the chance to play with the Camerata Salzburg that was something I definitely felt.


On 18 November, we hear different aspects of Mozart, from piano concerto to opera. How do you approach these different genres?

Mozart‘s writing for these different genres is notable for what they have in common; aspects of operatic language can be heard in all of his music. The E flat piano concerto makes me instantly think of The Marriage of Figaro, and the D minor of The Magic Flute.

The challenge therefore I think is to bring out the drama of the smaller-scale works and the intimacy of the larger-scale ones.


It‘s a combination of reaction and anticipation


András Schiff will be conducting and, for the piano concertos, playing at the same time. Does this change your role as Concert Master?

The roles do become somewhat more fluid, but there is also less need for direction from the front with an orchestra of Mozart‘s size than there is with a full symphonic forces.

However the goal is always to have the maximum of communication between all the players, and to function as a chamber ensemble as much as possible.


Could you put into words how you communicate with a conductor or soloist during performance?

It‘s a combination of reaction and anticipation: I try to be as tuned in as possible to every nuance of what the soloist is doing, and at the same time to move as a unit with all the players on stage – the challenge is to find the balance between these two things.


What are you looking forward to most about this concert?

The Linz is one of my very favourite Mozart symphonies, and András Schiff is simply an extraordinary musician – I‘ve often known him to play an entire sonata as an encore after two concertos!

It doesn’t seem to require “effort” in the normal sense, making music is as fundamental to his life as breathing air.

The Philharmonia performs András Schiff: A Feast of Mozart on Tuesday 16 November in Leicester and Thursday 18 November in London.

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