The Classic FM Q&A: composer and conductor Leo Geyer

31 July 2015, 12:14 | Updated: 6 January 2017, 14:45

The Constella Ballet & Orchestra's Artistic Director stops by for a chat about Schoenberg, atonality, the magic of the Royal Opera House and the importance of comic clowns.

You're placing your own music next to that of Schoenberg. Is it a challenge? 

Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' set out to break from tonality into atonality. My 'Sideshows' does the opposite, breaking from atonality into tonality. Both pieces also use opposite approaches to the clown theme. 'Pierrot Lunaire' features the dark, sinister side of the 'sad' clown Pierrot, whilst 'Sideshows' is scored for musicians as raucous and comic clowns. 

What do you wish someone had told you while you were training? 

What would happen if you fell in love with a mezzo-soprano. I've ended up writing an opera! 

What’s the one thing you’d like to see the classical world do differently? 

To think creatively and present the music in new and engaging ways that are relevant and exciting to today's modern audience. By that I don't mean just doing a performance outside the concert hall but exploring totally new possibilities, like performing classical music as clowns for instance... 

Which composers do you admire? 

I admire lots of composers for lots of different reasons. Stravinsky is probably my idol. His ballet scores are incredibly innovative and inspiring.

What do you think is the secret to composing a striking ballet score?

A good story. If the narrative is strong and exciting it offers lots of potential for characterful music. 

What is your one piece of advice for anyone trying to make it in music? 

Don't give it up! It's not an easy profession, and there are lots of ups and downs, but you will always get through with hard work, dedication and passion. 

What’s been the high point of your career so far? 

Conducting at the Royal Opera House. To stand on the podium was a mixture of terror and excitement and I can't wait to be there again!

You can see Constella Ballet & Orchestra's The Clown of Clowns at Arcola Theatre, part of the Grimeborn Opera Festival from 4-8 August 2015.