The Importance of the Arts: an Interview With Keri-Lynn Wilson

The Importance of the Arts: an Interview With Keri-Lynn Wilson


I had the chance to speak with the renowned conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson about her Royal Opera House debut, Carmen, and to catch a glimpse of the rehearsal.

Wilson is best known as a Canadian flute player and conductor, though she has an array of musical talents. She throws her all into conducting and her excitement about this particular production of Carmen was evident throughout the interview.

When asked what we could expect from the show she replied: ‘it’s a huge twist, just a twist on Carmen,’ going on to say that the minimalistic staging and incorporation of dialogue made the production ‘more like real theatre.’ It is clear from the rehearsal that this production of Carmen is fully immersive, the stripped-back staging allowing the beautiful songs to take centre stage and become the focus of the production.

you have to have charm and generosity in your approach

Chatting further with Wilson, I wanted to learn more about what skills it takes to become a successful conductor, she replied: ‘just about everything. Firstly, I would say to be a very well-rounded musician.’ Her passion for opera was apparent in her emphatic expression as she remarked: ‘you have to have great leadership skills, you have to put everything together, you have to have charm and generosity in your approach, […] so that everybody’s working together- it has to come from your energy.’ 

Though the highly pressured environment can be taxing, Wilson remarking that to succeed you must have ‘incredible mental and physical stamina.’

we need more programmes and opportunities for kids

Following from this I asked how we could encourage student interest in the opera, the conductor remarked: ‘It starts with education, it has to be in schools, just to have that introduction,’ further going on to add ‘we need more programmes and opportunities for kids.’ Wilson touched on the under-funding of arts programmes in education, stating that while she as a child in Canada had access to instruments and classes, when she returned ‘they started to cut programmes.’ 

This issue Wilson highlights here is incredibly serious. The underfunding of arts subjects in schools is a huge issue, without it, people like Wilson and the cast/crew of Carmen would not have found their calling, and this incredible production would not be taking place.

great artistry comes from anywhere

Wilson is such a remarkable, accomplished woman and I was intrigued to know what inspired her and who she admired, she articulately replied that ‘great artistry comes from anywhere’ and that ‘people who direct, that’s one thing but people who create- that’s something else.’

Wilson’s reverence for creativity is infectious, and after speaking with her, I’m excited to watch the full production of Carmen. By the looks of things, I’m not the only one eagerly anticipating the show, as most of the productions that Wilson is conducting are sold out.

After speaking with Wilson, I can say that I wholeheartedly admire her and her dedication to the arts and that we should all remember how important it is to introduce people to music, literature and art from a young age.

Carmen runs from 27th November to 22nd December, click here to purchase the remaining tickets.

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