Jordan de Souza returns to work in Quebec. It will be Wednesday, his first concert with OSM. As part of’first portrait built in 2016, we nicknamed him “the classic 100,000 volt gentleman.” Since then, the tension has not decreased, but the topics of reflection have changed.
“Our life in music is always on the verge of order and chaos. We navigate it, and failure may be necessary. You should never deprive yourself of a good crisis: all crises are life lessons. »
You’d think Jordan de Souza is in total existential question – and yet he’s all smiles. At the time of this interview, he had just returned from his first Wagner opera. Ghost shipin Mannheim, Germany, where Wilhelm Furtwängler once worked, and stayed in Glyndebourne, in the British countryside, where he cooks Bohemia : “It’s great: London Philharmonic Orchestra, singers, campaign, festival spirit, team building…”
Eighteen performances will bring Jordan de Souza to Glyndebourne from 11 June to 14 August. And on July 26 at the Proms, he will conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 4and Symphony according to Tchaikovsky.
From base to peak in 12 years
If making music with Jordan de Souza is like talking to him, the musicians will not be bored. The interview is like a merry-go-round from La Ronde: we jump from anecdotes to philosophical reflections, jumping from French to German, bits and pieces into English. But we want more because Jordan de Souza is ready.
The purpose of the interview was to take stock of his career before seeing him again in Quebec. “Where am I in my career?” Ouch ! Basically I think about what I will do tomorrow. “Let’s sum it all up: Jordan de Souza left the Berlin Opera-Comique in July 2020, where he was conductor since 2017, then the first conductor (f.Kapellmeister).
His journey is amazing. His parents, who came to Montreal from India in the 1970s, moved to Toronto in 1980. He was born there in 1988. De Souza has eight children. Jordan moved to Montreal at 17 to pursue music. Who would have thought that a young man who, by his own admission, did not know anything about opera then, in 12 years would find himself conducting 50 performances a year in Berlin at an institution run by the now famous troublemaker of the operatic world, Barry Koski?
“My heart is still there,” admits Jordan de Souza. “I am at home at the opera house. Teamwork is very important, as is family life in the city without having to constantly travel. »
But the chef saw the change in July 2020 as “a necessity after two or three years of delaying and turning down a lot of guest chef invitations.” “Being a young artist is like sitting on a hamster wheel! he is watching.
Thus, the pandemic did not harm him. The 2020 break was even beneficial. “I didn’t feel slowed down or stopped. I always worked, I had more time with my family, in December 2020 we had a second child, a son, ”he rejoices. “Psychologically, we should also talk about this: music, the most beautiful art, is also a profession that is sometimes hated. Seeing yourself taking a break to reflect, just at the moment of a career takeoff, is not unpleasant. »
A successful musician faces a real danger of overheating, admits Jordan de Souza: “At the very beginning of your career, you have to face the question: “What am I doing?” »
During the pandemic, Jordan de Souza bet (at least) one point. Did he make the mistake of turning down an invitation from the prestigious Bavarian State Opera? “I said to myself: “What have I done here? I said no to the Bavarian State Opera!” And, at that time, they invited me back. Needless to say, I agreed. Being too careful is sometimes a mistake: the only way to find out is to take a chance. »
The pandemic eclipse was short for Jordan de Souza. After more or less the opening of the opera in Munich in September 2020, everything happened quite quickly. In the summer of 2021, he conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Knight of the Rose Strauss at the Garsington Festival. The Philharmonic immediately invited him to a symphony concert, which he will give in the fall of 2022 with, in the program, Don Quixote, Strauss and 4and Symphony Brahms.
The Canadian conductor, who wants to balance the lyrical and symphonic repertoire, lacks words to praise the achievements of the experience Kapellmeister night after night in opera, which for decades has been the natural path to fame (Karajan, Böhm, Szell, etc.).
“What I like about opera is that I have time. You can work with all facets of conducting. I think you’re not a real conductor until you’ve actually encountered the disaster in front of you in the orchestra pit. In this regard, for Jordan de Souza, the end of the end—or the test, if you will—in the face of said catastrophe is to “not only think about survival, but learn to somehow savor it.” small.” “Here we are starting to become a chef, and that’s great!” he concludes.
So, compared to the life of an opera conductor, “giving symphony concerts becomes not a vacation, but a luxury.” A symphonic engagement is “three days of concentrating on the music and not thinking about everyone being together on stage.” The coexistence of the symphonic and the lyrical in Jordan de Souza’s career will be “important” and the dosage “difficult”, he agrees.
envy the public
Thinking about his duties in the orchestra pit, the conductor is envious of the attitude that others may have towards music. “The audience has a different attitude towards music than the audience on stage. In fact, I envy this frank relationship. »
He also views his work as a form of therapy. “Music is a mirror. I learn a lot about myself. When something goes wrong in rehearsal, is it the idea or me? If I presented the same idea in a different way, if I implemented it in a different way, would I be able to convince? »
From this point of view, Jordan de Souza credits his work with “magic”: “Eternal restart; a new permanent chance… Every morning we can start anew with the previous day’s lessons. »
The chef, who lives in Berlin, doesn’t know what he’s aiming for now: “I’m in the fast lane and sometimes I can’t even jump on a train. I didn’t have a free day for four months. When he happens to sit down and think, he finds himself “not looking for a job” but “a way of life.” In future equations, we feel that separation from the family is a new fact that weighs on him: “We are sacrificing his life. It’s nice to sacrifice that for the music, but it takes a lot, especially from the family. »
In the coming months, Jordan de Souza will lead Carmen at the Dutch Opera, then Tristan and Isolde in Seattle and La Perrichole Offenbach at the Theater an der Wien, around Christmas. In 2023, he will make his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, a long-awaited invitation to finally return to his family for a while.
“I am also invited back to the Quebec Symphony Orchestra in November 2022: it is a very good orchestra with camaraderie and cheerfulness in sound. It’s like coming home,” he rejoices.
In Montreal, Jordan de Souza will lead 31and Symphony Mozart, concert sol Ravel, the creation of Simon Bertrand and nineand Symphony according to Shostakovich. “OSM has played a big role in my musical development in terms of embodying the orchestral sound with its virtuosity, transparency and sensuality. in nineand Shostakovich, there’s a woodwind solo and that sarcastic spirit that mixes creativity with a hint of rebelliousness, a spirit that I found in Berlin and Montreal. I think I had a good time in Berlin because I spent 10 years in Montreal. nineand Shostakovich is indeed an ideal work for our first meeting. »