Elim Chan: I wanna be like Blomstedt

From Gregor Tassie’s interview with Antwerp’s new music director, out today:

GT: How do you cope with the constant travel across Europe and elsewhere, do you manage to catch up with family and friends?

EC: Something happened last year that taught me a lesson because in the week that I stepped in for Neeme Järvi, afterwards I went to the Detroit Symphony, where I had four concerts and actually had to cancel one because I had a high fever and after Detroit I went to Hong Kong and in the 3 or 4 days there, I got pneumonia, and had to cancel two months of work. That experience was a shock, like a hammer[blow] to my head, and then I decided to organize my time; how many times I am going to work, and balancing my family and my free time. It woke me up, so now I am more strict on how much work I am taking on and you know my grandmother who is still in Hong Kong, I care about her very much, just making a call to her and talking to her makes a difference, to get that for yourself, all that glamour, the fame gives excitement, its intoxicating and you’re in that bubble, and forget everything else. My experience last year reminded me what this is – its like a marathon – I want to stay in the race as long as I can, maybe like [Herbert] Blomstedt who is 92, he is very healthy, more than a lot of other people! There is this way, how to do all that and still be happy, enjoy the process, now after last year, I have to protect myself, to have this [career], and then I can build up this work.

GT: Is there anything that would make you change your life?

EC: Nothing will stop me, my family and my fiancée are now supportive, (he is also a musician) and we have decided we will commit ourselves to our career, but also don’t want to talk about the wider career, I am very open, I am trying to build myself and grow where life takes me, of course I want to conduct the best orchestras in the world, I also think that I keep this openness, to see what life brings me, I can always have these plans, but you know in these last four years, every time I plan something in life then there come surprises like when the RSNO came along and so I just follow [the course], it’s okay I take it, also I am very aware of how much I can take, if my gut tells me don’t go there, I won’t go there. I also tell myself that life is more than just a career, I think that what I believe is a bigger thing than just jet-setting, all the hotels, and a comfortable life style, I get tired of that after two weeks. Every season I go and do projects with a youth orchestra, it’s not so glamorous, and people say why do you do that, I love it because it re-energises me, it also reminds me why I am doing this, I believe in what I do. So I do that every season, whatever career I have I will always do that, working with young people. I hope I am answering your question as I try to stay very open.

Read on here.

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  • I don’t know much about her, but after hearing some recordings (Youtube..) I find her very impressive, there’s something going on there…
    Why can she not be like Blomstedt, because she’s a woman, because she’s Asian?

    • If one records with a major orchestra it is 99.9% of the times going to be good. You put a monkey in front of the LSO and it is going to be pretty decent. Good professional orchestras would never allow a concert or a recording to be BAD, saving the conductor’s behind far too many times.

      • Actually, sometimes a “better” conductor can produce very bad concerts simply because they know how to manage the orchestra and the orchestra believes in their interpretation. Think Celi.

  • what on Earth is wrong with the people making comments here? This is a perfectly reasonable interview from a talented musician who has the self-knowledge to get better and better as a musician. Why do the comments section on this blog increasingly descend into this sort of angry, offensive chaos?

    • Agree Bruce. However at this stage of her career it is advisable to take care about things said. In the same answer she mentions N. Jarvi and HB in a way that can sound like putting herself in the same league. I can understand who thought her a little presumptuous.

  • How have things change! Before people would turn to those with more professional and life experience for advice and example. Now being young has become a value on its own, only supported by looks, and (sometimes) charisma. We live in a crazy world.

  • What I find more interesting:
    Comments on Nikolai Znajder’s appointment (who is a fine musician, but a mediocre conductor at best, with technical issues and no experience under his belt, being appointed by a major orchestra in France): 1 positive one.
    Comments on Elim Chan (who is a trained conductor, who has won a big competition, was upgraded, reinvited by major orchestras): 8 negative, 2 somewhat positive with loads of thumbs down.

    Just food for thought.
    And also: shame on yourselves.

    • You already said the reason. At least Znajder is a fine musician.
      Don’t try to use the prejudice claim to protec an artist that just don’t convince who critize he/she. If the post was about Seiji Osawa, Sumi jo or Yo Yo Ma, mostly comments and thumbs would be up.

  • “I want to stay in the race as long as I can, maybe like [Herbert] Blomstedt who is 92, he is very healthy, more than a lot of other people!”
    –> title “I wanna be like Blomstedt”????
    Why do you want to provoke a controversy about a young, talented and modest female artist?
    Truly pathetic, mr Lebrecht.

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