Arthur Arnold: The magic behind the music

July 20, 2011

Back for his third year, renowned classical conductor Arthur Arnold is one of the many musicians performing at this summer’s Woodstock Mozart Festival.

The conductor plays a major role in the music experience created for the listener. The orchestra is, essentially, his instrument. So when Arnold stands before the orchestra with his hands in the air, swaying side to side, with a variety of facial expressions, he is actually communicating with the musicians.

“The language I speak is international,” he said. “Anyone trained in the language could speak it.”

Arnold said when he first began conducting he conducted from his mind, remembering all that he learned during his years of schooling, leading to a disconnect between himself and the music. But after stepping back, Arnold discovered the glue needed to bond himself to the music was to conduct from the heart. There is a natural phenomenon that occurs when you give yourself up to the power behind the music, Arnold said. The effect of the music is an awakening.

For the full effect of the music to take place, three pieces must come together, Arnold said. The first is the composer. The second is the orchestra creating the music, note by note, measure by measure. The third is an open-minded audience. When this trifecta combines into one, it creates something magical.

Arnold said his inspirations are the composers behind the music.

“There’s a hidden beauty behind the notes,” he said.

Playing in a small city like Woodstock might seem like an odd choice for a man like Arnold to make.

“It just felt natural,” he said. “They asked me if I wanted to do the festival, and it only took a moment before I said, ‘Yes.’ It was that simple.”

And coming back year after year occurs just as simply.

Arnold was born and raised in the Netherlands, where he described his love for classical music first taking root. The classical music background was a big tradition back home, he said. Credit is also due to his grandmother, who helped create the man Arnold is today.

“She taught me to read notes before letters,” he joked.

After receiving the Prins Bernhard and Busenhart Morgen-Evans award, Arnold attended Italy’s Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena where he studied under Myung-Whun Chung. Later, Arnold had the opportunity to study with many other famous conductors and even conduct with the legendary Hans Vonk. Since then, Arnold has conducted orchestras in Moscow, Holland and Paris.

In his down time, which is hard to come by, he has to be in the water, Arnold said. Often he can be found paddling in his kayak, soaking in all that nature lays before him.

Arnold will conduct at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Woodstock Opera House. Tickets are $30 and $52 each. For information, visit www.mozartfest.org.

The Woodstock Independent