New dance music conducting fellow

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The Australian Ballet has welcomed Alexander Rodrigues as the latest recipient of the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Conducting Fellowship. After an 18-month COVID-induced delay Alexander has started his fellowship under the directorship and guidance of Nicolette Fraillon, The Australian Ballet’s Music Director and Chief Conductor, and Orchestra Victoria’s Artistic Director.

The Robert and Elizabeth Albert Fellowships were established in 2012 to support the development of conductors and pianists in the field of classical ballet. The Australian Ballet requires conductors and pianists of the highest calibre to match and partner the world-class standards of its dancers. Standard training pathways for conductors and pianists don’t usually develop the knowledge and skills to work with ballet dancers. Conductors and pianists who work with the company must understand and adjust to different choreography, staging, costumes and theatres, as well as the different physiques, musicality and preferences of the dancers, and the variations inherent to live performance.

Prior to 2012, there was no formal training pathway for budding ballet conductors in Australia. Robert Albert, a former Director and Board member of The Australian Ballet, and his wife Elizabeth, have been instrumental in the development of countless young artists across Australia and generously agreed to support two fellowships annually, one for ballet pianists and one for conductors. Alexander is the fifth conductor to have won this opportunity for growth and development.

Born and raised in Brisbane, Alexander graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science (Astrophysics) and Arts (Music). He learnt the piano and violin from a young age before learning the oboe and has been the principal oboist of the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra and the UTAS Conservatorium Orchestra.

While at university, he learnt pipe organ and was awarded the Organ Society of Queensland’s Pipe Organ Scholarship in 2015. He has since performed on the instrument with the Queensland Youth Orchestra’s Wind Symphony and the University of Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as well as the Derwent Symphony Orchestra.

Alexander’s interest in conducting began in 2009. He conducted the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as part of the inaugural Australian Conducting Academy in 2018. He has also conducted the Berlin Sinfonietta as part of two International Masterclass Berlin courses as well as participating in the Zlin Conducting Masterclass in the Czech Republic.

 “The Conducting Fellowship role with The Australian Ballet is such an exciting opportunity for me to broaden not only my music repertoire, but my knowledge of dance and ballet,” Alexander says.

“Since starting the fellowship, I’ve begun to get my head around how the different elements come together in the rehearsal process: learning what the different French and Italian dance steps mean; understanding how dancers and dance teachers ‘count’ the music; observing how the dancers rehearse; sitting with the repetiteurs and studying how they prepare their scores; learning about the importance of tempi and, of course, studying the orchestral scores and reading up about the ballets for upcoming productions.”

Nicolette Fraillon is thrilled. "Alexander is a very talented young musician and we are all excited to be playing a part in this next stage of his development.”

Look out for our interview with Alexander in the Oct/Nov/Dec print issue of 'Dance Australia'. Buy from your favourite dance retail outlet or go here and never miss an issue!


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