Portrait of Dane Lam outdoors
Dane Lam, Guest Conductor
Australian-Chinese conductor, Dane Lam, is Principal Conductor of the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra.

Operatically, he enjoys a close relationship with London’s Opera Holland Park and companies including Opera Queensland, Opera Australia and Scottish Opera. In early 2023, he was appointed Music Director of the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra.

Dane made his debut, aged eighteen, with the Sydney Symphony and has since conducted: the Queensland, Adelaide, Canberra, Dunedin, Kunming, Shandong, and Suzhou Symphony Orchestras, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Het Residentie Orkest, City of London Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata, South Bank Sinfonia, Liverpool Philharmonic Ensemble 10/10, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Verbier Festival Orchestra, and the Juilliard Orchestra.

Recent engagements include Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Ning Feng, Barry Douglas, and Kirill Gerstein with XSO; La bohéme and Don Giovanni at Opera Australia, L’arlesiana and Così fan tutte for Opera Holland Park, Giulio Cesare for Bury Court Opera, Orfeo ed Euridice for Opera Queensland, The Rake’s Progress and La traviata for Scottish Opera. Since 2021, Dane Lam has led seasons of Le nozze di Figaro and La traviata in Brisbane, La clemenza di Tito and La rondine in Canberra and Carmen in Perth; he also conducted the Xi’an, Hawai’i, Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras.

On 22 / 23 March 2023, Dane Edwardes conduct’s the CSO’s Fire & Shadow program.

The Fire & Shadow program includes music from two ballet scores. What particular demands does this place on the conductor and the orchestra?

The biggest (but most enriching) challenge of conducting a ballet comes from actually performing it with dancers. How much time does a particular dancer need to execute that arabesque? How long can they hold that position? When will they come spinning out of that pirouette to land on that big orchestral chord? Is a dancer particularly tired that day so needs a slower tempo, or do they just want to get through it and need the music to be perkier?

These are all questions that you need to ask yourself as a conductor when you’re in the ballet pit. So when we get to the concert platform, the only considerations we need when performing ballet scores are musical ones. It’s wonderfully liberating and you can allow your artistic imagination to run free! 

Dane Lam standing in front of a graffiti wall
Dane Lam, Guest Conductor

What do you experience as the dominant emotions in these works? What do you hope the audience takes away from the performance?

An interesting aspect of all these works is that each composer is renowned for a wide variety of their most representative, famous works. In this CSO program, though, we explore lesser known but no less incandescent works of theirs.

I’d always known Beethoven’s Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus but uncovering the rest of this ballet music is akin to brushing the dust off a brilliant gem. There’s a trademark Beethovenian fire but also the elegance of dance and of this classical period in general.

The Stravinsky takes us on a journey through The Fairy’s Kiss and the seducation and ultimate downfall of the young man with Stravinsky’s austere, evocative colours and sinuous lines punctuated by abrupt twists and turns.

And, the Grandage captures what is wonderous, mystical and incongruous on this vast, red continent of ours. I can’t wait to bring it to life with real-life Australian treasure, Claire Edwardes.

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