It was in the Maîtrise de Radio France, which he joined as a boy soprano in 1985, that Jérémie Rhorer first realised that his vocation was to be a conductor as he sang under the direction of prestigious personalities like Colin Davis and Lorin Maazel. Fascinated, he observed them from the shadows at the back of the platform, and discovered the magic of making sound waves move in front of oneself, sensing the conductor’s effect on the vibrations of the orchestra. Filled with wonder, young Jérémie embarked on the task of learning all about music, having understood it was to be essential to his life. He subsequently studied with Emil Tchakarov, a former assistant of Herbert von Karajan, and entered the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in 1991, graduating with four Premiers Prix. He then began what is still his life today: conducting leading orchestras around the world, composing his own music, and acting as artistic and musical director of Le Cercle de l’Harmonie.
Conducting prestigious orchestras
As a harpsichordist, Jérémie Rhorer was influenced by the Baroque revolution, and he has always felt that the elements of phrasing and rhetoric are of decisive importance to performance. With this in mind, he set out to reinterpret Mozart (whom he came to love, quite naturally, as a child) without dogmatism, seeking to elucidate the composer’s dramatic genius, since in his view tradition has given too large a place to vocalism and its artifices. Idomeneo, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, La clemenza di Tito and Die Entführung aus dem Serail are among the works he has performed with major orchestras, notably as part of the Mozart cycle entrusted to him by the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, a series that has been hailed as a milestone.
A similarly original approach underpins his performances of Haydn, Gluck, Auber, Grétry, Beethoven, Brahms, Weill, German Baroque and Romantic composers, and also contemporary music, including new works by Thierry Escaich. In the final analysis, his conducting activity embraces a wide range of repertory, which is also nourished by his training as a composer; in his view, the interaction between the two is of key importance in getting to the heart of the musical material and achieving an intimate understanding of the structure that allows us at least to . . . hope to get near the truth.
Among the notable orchestras Jérémie Rhorer has conducted in this broad repertory are the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the Bamberger Symphoniker, and the Yomiuri Orchestra in Japan.
Today he is a regular guest of the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Philharmonia Orchestra, which he conducted in a 2013 production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites (directed by Olivier Py) at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées that won the 2014 Grand Prix du Syndicat de la Critique. The DVD recording received numerous prizes, including a BBC Music Magazine Award 2016.
Jérémie Rhorer has appeared at the most prestigious international festivals, from Aix-en-Provence to Salzburg and Glyndebourne, Edinburgh and the BBC Proms, but also in the opera houses of Vienna, Munich, Brussels (La Monnaie) and Madrid (the Teatro Real).
Following the death of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, with whom he had a natural rapport, the Concentus Musicus Wien invited him to conduct Beethoven’s Eroica and Pastoral symphonies.
At the wellsprings of musical style: Le Cercle de l’Harmonie
Jérémie Rhorer has also chosen to lead his ‘true artistic life’ through his orchestra, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, founded on the special sound of period instruments, with which his conception of conducting gives him the authority to tackle repertory in a spirit inherited from Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
With his insatiable musical curiosity, he exhumes such little-known works as Johann Christian Bach’s Amadis de Gaule and Gaspare Spontini’s Olimpie, which contribute to his quest to reconstruct musical lines of descent and are at the same time essential cultural artefacts in their own right. In his performances around the world, he explores music from the eighteenth century to our own time in an uncompromising style, rich, audacious and highly individual.
The composer: musical style in movement
A student of Thierry Escaich, Jérémie Rhorer is a major contemporary composer and winner of the Prix Pierre Cardin. His exacting compositional work is parallel to his activity as a conductor. In 2017, the Philharmonia Orchestra commissioned him to write a piano concerto for the French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.