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Luca Tieppo

It is as ever, a pleasure to share music and ideas with you and this month we are featuring Luca Tieppo. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and his insights below:

Karen :Q1. I know you have a love for both Opera and Ballet. Can you define what skills differentiate the two jobs as a repetituer and do you think it is something that few (or many) pianists can achieve?

Luca: I have always been fascinated by theatre, and the dramaturgy behind the shows. And I have always wanted to be a composer, since when at 4 I used to hum my own arrangements of popular children’s tunes… So working in theatre has always been my ambition. When I started, not much older than a teenager, first for ballet at La Scala and then for opera in Monte-Carlo, I discovered a world of opportunities and possibilities as a pianist. Thirty-something years on, I am still fascinated by the different skill sets that each job requires. A pianist for ballet needs to be much more flexible, both musically and mentally; I’m thinking for example of the ability to improvise or adapt the music, or of how dancers speak a different “language” that one must understand and interpret. Even when rehearsing the repertoire, a pianist needs to sustain the dancer with fewer but clear and firm inputs. In opera, on the other hand, one has to be able to replicate the orchestra, often filling in the gaps of the piano score, supporting the singers with different colours etc. Adaptation or improvisation are not only not required but also inconceivable..

Not many pianists that I know of have been able to build a career in both opera and ballet, perhaps just because it would require too much of a mental shift to jump from one to the other. I have been privileged enough to have had the chance to work with some of the best of both worlds and at this stage of my life I would love to pass on this experience to younger musicians.
Karen :Q2. What advice would you give younger musicians coming into work in the world of dance?
Luca: I believe music has first and foremost social value. It’s the perfect means to socialise, and is a great companion – a friend for life. With music at your side, you’ll never feel alone. Studying music should be an investment for one’s own existence. To someone who wants to play for a living, though, the first advice I would give would be to be honest in defining their “talent”; to be determined, prepared to compromise but most importantly be willing to give a part of themselves to others. Making music should not be about being successful or achieving recognition, which can be at times a cause of frustration – it should always be about giving. Especially in the world of dance, I would say.
Karen Q3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Luca : I have absolutely no idea! I am currently working on a few creative projects which will hopefully keep me occupied for the next couple of years and then I will do what I have always done – follow where life, music or love take me, and start a new chapter.

The final interview with Kasper Cornish

Karen :  Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?


Kasper :In 10 years time I hope to have released another 10 albums – perhaps some for different instrumental line ups. This year I’ve had a blast performing the narrator role in Peter and The Wolf with The Chamber House Winds. I think a ballet class for wind quintet could be on the cards? I also had plans last year (2020) to record my String Quartet Dances – the pandemic put that project on hold so I hope to be able to do that before 10 years have elapsed. I expect to still be teaching ballet a decade from now but as my body gets older, and less agile, the idea of “playing” for class certainly becomes more and more attractive! Either all that, or sitting on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails.

Karen What a joy chatting with you! Thanks for sharing


Kasper and Karen continue their Blog

Karen :michael barnettIn your valued opinion, why is live music important when working with dance? Assuming live music in Class is essential to crafting a dancer’s understanding of the art, are there perhaps any advantages to using prerecorded music in performance?


Kasper :I really believe the greatest thing about working with live music in the studio, is that we are reminded not to take music, or sound, for granted. Someone, somewhere, makes that sound happen. It doesn’t just appear on streaming services! Collaboration between music and dance, and that fusion of ideas, leads to the circle of creativity and often the odd happy accident.


With regard to performance; I find the perfect synchronicity of orchestra and ballet company impossible to beat. One possible advantage of using pre recorded music in performance is the reliability and certainty of tempo/accent for dance ensembles, as the occasional inexperienced conductor, or last minute dep, can disrupt that reliability. I experienced a “waltz of the flowers” which was considerably quicker in performance than it had been an hour before in rehearsal. Needless to say it fell apart, entrances missed, corps de ballet out of sync, a veritable disaster! However, it’s a glorious experience when a soloist or principal dancer gets the opportunity to work closely with a conductor and “play” in time together.

The ‘two K’s’ speak about their music!

Kasper Cornish Portrait 2015 Karen : You have a unique viewpoint in that you approach music making from a physical point of view. Are there any tips you can share with musicians in what they may miss in the ‘physicality’ of their music?


Kasper :As a ballet teacher I have the luxury of being able to try out the tracks I write with the dancers I teach. It gives me an opportunity to check if the music is inspiring the desired physical and emotional reaction (speed, accent, mood, anticipation etc). Even as an ex-dancer, imagining moving while I’m composing at the piano doesn’t compare with moving in the studio environment. I have yet to find a better way of checking the effectiveness of a piece of music than actually swinging a leg, jumping or turning, whether it’s me or someone else! So my tip would be; where possible, try out recordings with teachers and dancers before finalising them. That’s my way of measuring the physicality, or groove, of a piece of music.

Karen: That is a simple and effective way of checking out your work! This will create an interesting and expansive dialogue with dance teachers.


We are delighted to have Kasper join our little family of composers who write best quality music for ballet class. Kasper has taken a step further and explored the possibilities of using irregular time signatures in Class. Why?! You may ask! Well, the crossover between Contemporary and Ballet class is growing ever closer and this music serves beautifully on both. Secondly, this music energises Ballet Class with rhythmic frameworks that are exhilarating. Give it a try!

Final part 4 of interview ‘Experimental Music for Barre’ by Dominic Faricier

Well, the week has flown by and ,as ever, I ask my guests their hoped-for future

Karen:Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Dominic:C’est une question très difficile! Il y a tellement de choses qui peuvent changer en 10 ans.Une pensée sur laquelle je m’appuie souvent est la suivante : cela a du sens de continuer dans une voie qu’on approfondit au quotidien depuis longtemps même si on traverse des moments difficiles.

This is a very difficult question! There are so many things that can change in 10 years, a thought I often lean on is this: it makes sense to continue on a path that we have been pursuing every day for a long time even though we are going through difficult times. 

Karen: It’s been a pleasure getting to know Dominic. Please get in touch via my contact page if you want to know more!

Experimental Music for Class: part 3

In this part of the interview we talk about dance culture:

Karen:Would you say there are different approaches to Ballet Class in, say France to where you currently work in Graz?

Dominic:En France, en danse classique, la tradition de l’Opéra de Paris est très présente dans les structures d’enseignement. Les professeurs sont souvent soit directement issus de cette Ecole soit eux-mêmes formés par des professeurs de l’Opéra. Je retrouve cette esthétique à Graz quand un professeur invité Français vient passer quelques semaines avec nous. Ici, je suis plus entouré de professeurs issus de la tradition Russe.Et pour l’anecdote, la plus grosse différence culturelle entre l’Autriche et la France est que le cours commence tous les jours sans exception précisément à l’heure!! En France, c’est plus souple…

In France, in classical dance, the tradition of the Paris Opera is very present in educational structures. The teachers are often either directly from this School or themselves trained by teachers from the Opera. I notice this aesthetic in Graz when a French guest professor comes to spend a few weeks with us. Here, I am more surrounded by teachers from the Russian tradition.And as an anecdote, the biggest cultural difference between Austria and France is that the course starts every day without exception precisely on time !! In France, it’s more flexible …

Karen: Wow! Yes I have an anecdote too….If I work in an orchestra, we have warmed up and play the first note with the conductor’s downbeat at 10am. In Ballet Companies we start the first movement at 10am and if a dancer is late they do Class alone in the adjoining studio. In Acting, we put the kettle on at 10am to listen for 45 minutes to actors telling us about ‘the job that got away’! 

Interview with Dominic Faricier Part 2 : Experimental Music for Barre

Day 3 of our interview, we talk about Dominic’s approach to music.

Karen : I notice that you have a very interesting approach to rhythmic complexity in your work. What is your philosophy on these great music structures you create? And whilst you tell us, could you explain your joy of working in tricky key signatures!

Dominic:J’ai commencé à accompagner la danse en imitant un pianiste que le professeur de danse m’avait recommandé et j’ai ensuite évolué en trouvant sans cesse d’autres modèles. Je pense qu’aujourd’hui ma façon d’accompagner est une synthèse de toutes ces influences. On se rend compte jour après jour de ce qui fonctionne bien et de ce qu’il faut éviter… Je travaille aussi constamment pour le cours de nouvelles pièces écrites par des compositeurs de toutes les époques. Elles influencent à coup sûr ma façon d’improviser ou de composer. Concernant les tonalités. Peut-être par peur de la monotonie, je fais l’effort de toujours changer de tonalité (je lutte pour ne pas trop jouer en mineur!). Le livre reflète cela.

I started to accompany dance by imitating a pianist that the dance teacher recommended to me and then I evolved by constantly finding other models. I think that today my way of supporting is a synthesis of all these influences. We realize day after day what works well and what to avoid … I also constantly look for new pieces written by composers from all eras. They definitely influence my way of improvising or composing. Regarding tonality. Perhaps out of fear of monotony, I make the effort to always change the key (I struggle not to play too much in minor!). The book reflects this.

Dominic Faricier Photo

Experimental Music for Barre: Interview Part 1

This week as promised, I am publishing my interview with composer and pianist Dominic Faricier. Each day we unpack another layer of his musical journey. Dom works in Graz at the  Opera Ballet in Graz,Austria. Enjoy this golden conversation in French and English!

Karen : Your title ‘Experimental Music for Barre’ is a really exciting prospect. Could you explain the title of your book a little more, and if you might be making a version for Centre too?

Dominic : Tout d’abord, merci Karen de m’avoir encouragé et aidé dans la réalisation de ce livre. Si je me souviens bien, c’est toi-même qui as suggéré l’idée de ce titre. Il m’a tout de suite plu car il laisse une certaine ouverture. Ce livre veut présenter une façon de faire parmi une multitude.
Pour aller dans ce sens, les introductions et les fins d’exercices sont écrites en petites notes, comme pour dire “voici une idée mais sentez-vous libre de faire autre chose”.
Oui, j’aimerais bien qu’il y ait une suite. L’idée serait de réaliser un livre pour le milieu et peut-être un troisième pour une classe sur pointes.

First of all, thank you Karen for encouraging and helping me in the making of this book. If I remember
correctly, it was you yourself who suggested the idea for this title. I immediately liked it because it leaves a certain openness. This book wants to present a way of doing things among a multitude. To support this, the introductions and endings of the exercises are written in small notes, as if to say “here is an idea but feel free to do something else”. Yes, I hope there will soon be a sequel. The idea would be to make a book for the middle and maybe a third for a class on pointe.

Introducing Dominic Faricier

It is with greatest delight I am introducing you to a new member of the team! Dominic is one of the most excellent pianists for dance class in Europe and has just produced his first – of three – scores of music for free class. Titled Experimental Music for Ballet Class – Part 1: Barre.  His music is experimental only in that it stretches our imagination far and beyond. Please have a look at the Music Scores page here to enjoy a preview of his work. Tomorrow, and all through this week I shall be publishing a beautiful interview with him in French. Do not worry, we are translating as we go too!