‘Gavin Sutherland “a music genius” says Tamara Rojo as he departs ENB Music Director role’ by Simon Albury

Gavin Sutherland will leave his role as the English National Ballet Music Director by the end of the year.  Sutherland will have been at the company for 23 years, 15 of them as musical director.

Tamara Rojo, ENB Artistic Director, discussed Sutherland’s contribution to her work and to the ENB company ‘In Conversation’ with Graham Watts, the well-known and respected dance writer and critic, at an internationally streamed London Ballet Circle event on Monday 17 October 2022

Rojo, herself, is departing for California at the end of November to become Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ballet.

Khan’s Giselle Rescued

Rojo said Sutherland’s contribution has been enormous and revealed the inside story on how Gavin Sutherland had rescued Akram Khan’s Giselle. 

“Six weeks before the premier, the original composer pulled out and in six weeks in, Vincenzo Lamagna was composing during the night. So Akram was choreographing to rhythm, then he would send the file of the rhythm to Vincenzo . Vincenzo would compose the music during the night, send it back In the morning, so we had actual tunes to work with.  And at the same time, Gavin would start the orchestration of that composition, which was a computer file. 

I don’t really know any other dance director conductor that is such a music genius. I think that ballet conductors tend to be underestimated. And Gavin Sutherland is the most underestimated of them all because he is genuinely somebody extraordinary.”

Raymonda Developed

Tamar Rojo went on to explain the process by which she and Sutherland developed to score for Raymonda, the ballet with which Rojo made her debut as a choreographer.

“Gavin put all of the changes I wanted to do in the Raymonda narrative into a cohesive music score. He’s somebody that can remember any tune and develop it into a full orchestration. 

A lot of the Raymonda original score is little songs –  a solo, a solo and then another solo. I didn’t like that. I wanted a full continuous sound. We sat in a room and he would play a solo, the end of a solo at the beginning of another solo and I would sing the link and then he would write it down, and that became a composition. He composed bits. And like I said, Gavin is an extraordinary, extraordinary musician”.

Rojo concluded, “Of course, I will miss him very much and the ENB dancers have been very lucky as well”.

Tamara Rojo and Gavin Sutherland will be reunited in Helsinki, in February 2023, for the Finnish National Opera and Ballet “Raymonda”.


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