Classical Music

A Day In The Life Of An Artist: Christian Arming

The conductor describes a day filled with yoga, reading, music, wine…and monster bugs…at the 2017 Round Top Festival!

What do artists do in their free time? What inspires them in their everyday life? How do they start their day, tackle their creative processes, balance work-life, and then unwind – all within 24 hours?

In this series, "A Day in the Life of an Artist," we'll invite artists to answer those questions by pulling back the curtain on one day in their lives.

In our final installment as the Round Top Music Festival comes to a close, we feature conductor Christian Arming, Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège in Belgium.

This week, Christian Arming is in residence at the 2017 Round Top Music Festival, where he is preparing to conduct Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E minor with soloist James Dick, and Bolero and La Valse by Maurice Ravel. Now in its 47th season, the Round Top Music Festival is considered the "Tanglewood" of the Lone Star State. A summer conservatory for young professional musicians, distinguished faculty artists and guest conductors, the festival is also famous for its 210-acre campus in the Texas Hill Country, set amidst country roads, forests, gardens, Victorian homes and architecture.

Here is how Christian spent July 12, 2017:

6:00 AM

Wake up. At that time of the day it is not too hot, so I take advantage and go for a short walk to the small lake close to the log house which will be my home for the next couple of days. After returning home I spend 25 minutes doing some yoga. As you can imagine conducting is quite exhausting and feels sometimes like doing a professional sport. In addition to that, flying between Europe, US, and Asia every second week doesn’t make it easier. So yoga helps me to stay in shape.


8:40 AM

In the meanwhile I got hungry, so its time to have breakfast together with the students and faculty. During I enjoy fresh fruits and some toast we discuss and go through the schedule of the day.


9:30 AM

Meeting with the librarian of the Round Top Music Festival, Irene Quirmbach. The day before we found out that the rehearsal numbers in my score don’t match the numbers in the orchestral parts…pure chaos. What was supposed to sound like the first Piano Concerto by Chopin was much more like a terrible contemporary composition. Irene found right away a solution and we could fix the score.


10:00 AM

Finally it’s time to study scores and prepare the afternoon rehearsals. As this year’s program includes Ravel’s La Valse and Bolero, both fantastic masterworks, and extremely difficult to play for the orchestra, the rehearsal time has to be used very efficiently.

I have to imagine before the rehearsal where the musicians need my help and how we can get a good result.


12:40 PM

Lunch time at the Menke House. Great food and another chance to chat with all these wonderful colleagues.


1:30 PM

A bit of free time. We all have to do some office work. So that’s my chance to write some emails, Skype with friends and musicians and then read a book indoors as by now it is anyway too hot and humid to do anything outdoors without AC.


3:30 till 6:00 PM

Most important part of the day… orchestra rehearsal. Each day we go through the whole program, try to solve technically difficult spots, if necessary play it a bit slower than asked by the composer and then speed it up. If these wonderful musicians get familiar with the structure of the piece we start to dig deeper regarding balance, colors and interpretation.


6:40 PM

Everybody is starving and we meet again to have dinner together. Today we had ice cream as a dessert. That made my day.


8:00 PM

It doesn’t really cool down but I feel it would do me good to go for another walk and just enjoy the nature, sounds of birds, frogs and other animals and the extraordinary gardens and architecture of Festival Hill.


9:30 PM

Enjoying a glass of wine and reading a few more pages in my book before I start to search on the floor of my room for some monster bugs which I never have seen before in Europe. Better I find them before they attack me in the night.

Christian Arming conducts the Texas Festival Orchestra at the 2017 Round Top Music Festival on Saturday, July 15, 7:30pm, featuring Chopin’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in E minor (with pianist James Dick) and Ravel’s Bolero and La Valse.


Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on HPM Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews for Houston...

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