Throughout his career, Steven Sloane has conducted a great deal of the symphonic repertoire from Haydn to composers from our day and age. However, in contrast to many of his colleagues he did not work through the catalogues of the grand masters of Classical music in an encyclopaedic manner. In searching for both the obvious and the latent interconnections in music history, Sloane has instead combined old and established works with new or overlooked possibilities of musical expression. He has avoided specialism and exclusivity of any kind, in particular the German idea of “Absolute Musik”, i.e. music which only refers to music and nothing but music, is alien to him.
Taboos ignite his fantasy, hence he loves to confront the classics with all kinds of contemporary musical expressions, including jazz, pop, film music and other art forms.
It goes without saying that this approach requires continuity of a different kind, more than just an unspecific sequence of nice program ideas. Steven Sloane and the Bochum Symphony Orchestra are a perfect match in this respect and their more than 20 years of intensive collaboration is an outstanding testimony to the strength of their partnership and very rare in our day and age.
In recent years Mahler’s music became more and more a focal point in Sloane’s conducting career. In an initial cycle he combined Mahler and Ives in his programs, underpinning both a surprising congeniality and the utmost contrast and diversity of their musical output, in short:
the extremes of musical modernity and the underlying current which unites these composers as kindred spirits. In his upcoming second cycle Sloane will head in the opposite direction, not only trying to find different responses in terms of repertoire but also different formats of presentation for each of Mahler’s symphonies and song cycles. For Sloane, Mahler remains the ultimate role model in resisting routine and meaningless convention.