In the latest episode of Le Podcast on Emerging Leadership, I had the pleasure of hosting Noah Max, a visionary in the realm of classical music. Noah, a composer and conductor, shares his profound insights on leadership within the creative arts.
🔹 Creative Leadership: Noah describes his role as a composer akin to being a thought leader, constantly striving to innovate and push the boundaries of classical music.
🔹 Challenges in Classical Music: He highlights the difficulties in bridging the gap between classical music and wider audiences, emphasizing the need to communicate its relevance and vitality in people’s lives.
🔹 The Power of Art: Noah passionately speaks about the personal and almost therapeutic impact of engaging with the arts, beyond intellectual understanding.
🔹 Leadership in Practice: Sharing his experience with the opera “The Child in the Striped Pyjamas,” Noah reflects on the importance of team synergy and the challenges of leading a creative project.
🔹 The Conductor’s Role: He delves into the unique dynamics of conducting, where a blend of vision, listening, and collaboration is key to creating a harmonious performance.
🔹 Immersive Leadership Workshops: Noah discusses his innovative workshops that allow individuals to experience the role of a conductor, emphasizing self-discovery and personal growth.
🔹 Personal Development: He stresses the importance of continually challenging oneself to grow as a leader, drawing parallels to physical training.
🔹 Mentorship and Inspiration: Noah shares his experiences with mentorship, both as a mentee and a mentor, highlighting the reciprocal nature of these relationships.
🔹 Future Projects: Looking ahead, Noah is excited about his upcoming compositions, including his first symphony.
🔹 Advice for Leaders: He advises emerging leaders to tune out the noise and listen to themselves, making decisions based on what truly matters to them.
Tune in this enlightening conversation with Noah Max, where music and leadership intertwine to create a symphony of insights. Tune in to this episode to be inspired, regardless of your field!
Listen now and let the music of leadership elevate your day! 🎧
- Website (& newsletter signup): https://www.noahmax.net/
- The Child in a Stripped Pyjamas: https://linktr.ee/stripedpyjamas
- Latest Album: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_llt5MCJkJMI9SETVugyk22509cGtf7Xv4
- Website (& newsletter signup): www.noahmax.net
- SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/noahmax
- Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/noahmax
- YouTube – Noah Max: https://www.youtube.com/@noahmax6190
- YouTube – Echo Ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/@EchoEnsemble
- Publisher: https://ump.co.uk/composer/noah-max/
- A Child In Striped Pyjamas: https://linktr.ee/stripedpyjamas
- Noah recommended to listen
- Walton “Belshazzar’s Feast” – Andrew Davis conducts
- TÁR is the movie with Cate Blanchett, Noah mentioned
TÁR – Official Trailer [HD] – In Select Theaters October 7
- Whiplash TRAILER 1 (2014) – J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller Movie HD
- Endymion Ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMkPiXbcKghBQ0jVuKNIxqQ
Alexis: Today, we have a truly enchanting episode lined up for you. Noah Max masterfully blends the art of music with the essence of leadership. He’s a creative artist, not only a composer and a conductor he’s an innovator in the world of classical music.
Alexis: Welcome to Le Podcast on Emerging Leadership, Noah. How do you typically introduce yourself to someone you just met?
Noah: Well, it’s lovely to see you, Alexis. Thanks for having me on the podcast. I suppose I would go in with creative artist. Because that’s something everyone can relate to immediately and understand. I work specifically in the field of music. I do a number of different things within the field of music, including conducting, which I know we’re going to speak about later on.
But primarily, at heart, I’m a composer, which means I write music. And that sometimes leaves people a little bit nonplussed, because they’re not quite sure what [00:01:00] it means to create music from scratch, or You know for what context are you creating music? What does your life look like if you’re getting out of bed every morning and what writing music?
I mean, how does it work? So the way I would describe it is that I’m attempting to imagine sounds that nobody’s heard before and then notate those sounds either for existing instruments, combinations of instruments, or perhaps even inventing an instrument physically or electronically which doesn’t yet exist, in such a way, so notating it in such a way that Performers could then realize that vision for an audience.
And often for me, that’s within the context of classical music in the concert hall. Sometimes it will be for television, film, something of that description.
Alexis: Okay, that’s fantastic. So now I guess people are wondering, are, are we on a [00:02:00] podcast about leadership? And I’d say, yes, we are. And I will ask a question about how do you define leadership in that context of composing and conducting? And what are some of those unique challenges you face as a leader?
in the musical world.
Noah: I suppose there’s two ways that you can look at a question like that. And one of them is intensely creative and one of them is intensely practical. So from the perspective of composing, I suppose it’s sort of like being a thought leader or a philosopher in that you’re trying to move things forward.
You don’t simply want to repeat things that have already been done although there’s nothing inherently wrong with that but you want to bring something original and valuable to the table, which is going to in some way move the dialogue forward during the course of your creative lifetime. And then there’s the more practical side, which I suppose Through my composing [00:03:00] through my conducting, excuse me, and my other activities one gets a little bit closer to this, which is the fact that there’s a lot of worry in the classical music world that we are in a sort of declining landscape.
It’s certainly a very confusing landscape at the moment. I think there has been a great failure in the world of classical music to communicate itself to the wider world and to build bridges with the wider world. To show people who may feel no great connection in their life with classical music, contemporary classical music, romantic classical music, baroque or renaissance music it’s felt to communicate the ways in which that can be an important, an incredibly vital and, and life giving and sustaining force in, in people’s lives.
And so, you know, having failed to communicate that, no wonder people don’t necessarily feel as connected to it as maybe they could or should. And so, part of my mission in all the different things that I do is to connect people [00:04:00] with the arts in any which way, no matter what they spend their life.
doing. I would like them to have an inroad so that they can, you know, feel the beauty and the sometimes overwhelming power of these mediums in their own life.
Alexis: Wow, that’s beautiful. Ah, that’s beautiful. And I hope that will trigger the interest of people to have a taste at it without the intellectual knowledge that is coming to that. I’ve, I’ve observed times and times that people don’t Listen, or don’t watch paintings or look at it because they don’t have the knowledge that is going with it.
And I’m saying that’s, that’s like tasting food. You, you don’t necessarily have all the knowledge behind it, but you can taste it and maybe you like it. Maybe you don’t, or that could be a drink, that could be food, and that could be music, or that could be painting. Maybe just have a look at it and listen to what is happening inside [00:05:00] yourself.
That would be. Maybe your first time, don’t you think?
Noah: Oh, absolutely. And the wonderful thing with these things is that there’s no incorrect response. Including, you know, perhaps a work of art which everyone says is a great piece of genius leaves you feeling cold. And, you know, that’s fine. It’s an intensely personal thing. I think to just sit and observe a work of art or to sit in a concert hall, which feels incredibly formal and sometimes quite rigid.
And to experience a work of music over a period of time. It’s an incredibly intense experience and it’s a beautiful experience, but beauty can be terrifying. particularly if you’re not used to it, if you’re not accustomed to it immersing yourself in that beauty can be a terrifying experience, and that’s one of the reasons I’d encourage everyone to do it.
I think that’s part of the vital nature of it. But you also mentioned the intellect there, Alexis, so just to pick up on that for a minute. Often I [00:06:00] find we over intellectualize, actually, the problems in our lives, whereas accessing the creative arts is to do with intuition and the realm which is beyond the intellectual and beyond the statistical and the scientific and the measurable, although all those do come to play in their own.
special, interesting ways. But so much of what’s important is not that. And actually, I think this is the sense in which this is a life giving force. So you compared the analogy with food and in some sense that’s correct, except that we all have to eat three times a day or thereabouts in order to sustain ourselves.
So food is a life giving force in a physical sense. We need the calories in order to sustain our lives. Just like we need a roof over our heads. Et cetera, et cetera. But You might say, well, why do I need painting in my life? Why do I need theatre in my life? Why do I need cinema, for that matter, in my life?
it gives you something which is completely personal to you and which is [00:07:00] not quantifiable, no matter whether you think you’re a creative person or not. And I used to be incredibly naive and evangelical about this. I felt that everybody was creative. And I no longer think that’s True.
And I think a lot of people actually feel tremendous pressure that maybe they should be creative and actually it’s not part of their nature to produce things from scratch. And that’s completely fine. a work of art can feel as though it’s judging you, but there should be nothing judgmental about the process of appreciating art.
And I would like everybody to have their own way in, perhaps to step out of the intellect. And this is something I continually remind myself that I need to do. as well, because it’s not always the best way to solve a problem.
Alexis: I love it! Thank you for sharing that. Can you share an experience where your leadership skills were put to the test.
Noah: Well, the obvious one which comes to mind, and there might be some listeners who are aware of this, as I know you are I’ve spent the last five [00:08:00] years bringing an operatic adaptation of John Boyne’s novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. And you know this because you were at one of the instrumental rehearsals actually in London back in early January.
Can’t believe it’s so long ago already. But every single part of that process was a struggle. Writing the music was a struggle. Doing the research in order to take the entire project with the requisite seriousness was a struggle. Digging into my own family history and my connection with the topic matter was an immense.
Uphill climb spiritually and the logistics of putting on the performance, which we did pretty much single handedly myself and the Echo Ensemble, which is my orchestra, which sort of morphed into an opera production company for that project. And everything went wrong, which could possibly have gone wrong on ways to, I mean, I would.
We could just [00:09:00] sit here for an hour talking about the litany of things which went wrong and I was working all hours in a very unhealthy way. So it’s not something I would hold up as a model of good practice per se. And it’s certainly not an experience I would like to repeat. But it was in its own way, the best of times.
And the reason for that was because of the wonderful synergy in the team. And the only thing which functioned properly on that whole project. Was my team and I told them that and I even with all the other things vying for my attention. I made my priority to Nurture the synergy of that team and fortunately that turned out to be a good investment of resources.
Alexis: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s very interesting what you’re saying about the unhealthy way and all the things going wrong. I was, I was listening to the serial entrepreneur, who created several companies not all of them were [00:10:00] successful. In reality a few of them were successful and a lot were small disaster and bigger disasters.
and he was reflecting on that and he was saying, oh, you, read on LinkedIn and you believe all those people are very highly successful and highly driven and they are really good at all what they are doing and, and everything is going well for them. in reality everything is going wrong every day. And you just need to handle it. And sometimes you do it well, and sometimes you learn something in the process of, in your experience, and sometimes you don’t. And it’s even getting worse. So, there’s just a few things that matter, and that That’s how you are doing that, not all by yourself, but building a support team, you just mentored on that.
That was your team. So what happened with that team? What, what is that team and how it works [00:11:00] for you to work with the team?
Noah: Well, there are certain differences, I suppose in that making music is a process which is incredibly emotionally vulnerable. and very intimate and you have to be sharing of yourself whenever you’re doing it. I was conducting this project as well. So it was my own music that I was conducting with a team that I had hand picked.
So these were all musicians I deeply admired and. respected and enjoyed working with, but when you’re working on topic matter, that’s as dark as that for a sustained period of time, it’s just a great challenge. And the endurance is a challenge. I mean, on a personal level, what I kept reminding myself whenever I was fatiguing, which was often was It’s never going to get better than this.
So just enjoy every minute, which seems counterintuitive again, given the topic matter, but, [00:12:00] but it was necessary to get through it. And actually on the team level, I think that was reflected too, because I wanted to make sure that there was enough room for. levity and a bit of risque gallows humor, you know, because you can’t just be heavy and serious all the time.
And opera making is fun. It should be fun. It’s very interesting to me what you’re saying about the, you know, the, the, the front facing is, is always incredibly. Successful. And then, you know, generally the failures are kept private. I mean, there was just such a huge litany of failures and false starts on the road to this project.
And without the support of, I mean, the whole team, but particularly certain individuals who were attached to it for, you know, right from the start years earlier. I don’t know whether I would have pushed through all of those, but it’s just interesting as well, when you zoom out. You know, if you read the daily news feed, it’s always bad news because bad news happens in the short term.
I do, I don’t do any social media. I deleted all my social media. I do a newsletter once a month and when you zoom out And you only [00:13:00] do your news once a month, generally the news is more positive over the mid and the long term. Just an interesting thing to, keep in mind. I mean, it’s wonderful that with pyjamas, I think, you know, given that I’d never put so much energy and effort into anything in my life.
And to see it rewarded and to see my team rewarded through the reviews that we got and the recognition that the project got was, was absolutely wonderful. But that’s not an accurate reflection of what was going on under the surface. You know, the duck’s legs were, were very much tangled in the weeds there.
Alexis: you mentioned the rehearsal I was amazed of a lot of different things, but things that I still have in mind, there were the composer and the conductor. And so that was your own music. But you were already comfortable with the musician to challenge a little bit the composer or to to make fun of the composer [00:14:00] in some ways about the music itself.
And I thought it was really funny to say they are, and you are making fun of yourself or Separating yourself from the composer, from the music, because now we are trying to to play the music. it’s two different times. And I was looking at that, it was really interesting.
And there was sometimes the, the explanation of the music also. What is happening? That to give the context of, okay, we are, we are starting at that particular measure and you give the context about what is going on and you you explain what is going on what you would like to hear and and there’s a dialogue with the the musician and i i saw them taking notes on the on the score about what was going on and and you give them feedback And they ask something and I was that dialogue was fantastic in a way in my mind the music is on the score.
You just play [00:15:00] it and you’re done and that’s absolutely not what is happening Which was amazing to me Do you have some some reflection about what is going on when you are doing the rehearsal with the team?
Noah: Well, that situation was very specific. And I think being a composer who conducts creates a very specific. Scenario whereby you can offer certain insights. into the process of how something’s been created and what the thought process was behind it. Whereas if it’s somebody else’s music, you’re not necessarily in a position to do that.
Although even that only goes so far, interestingly. I often feel as British composer William Walton must have felt, there’s a possibly apocryphal story of a occasion when he was conducting his own great oratorio, huge orchestra and choir called Belshazzar’s Feast. Tremendous piece. I recommend everybody who is listening to this should go and find it on YouTube, but he was conducting a performance of it and somebody asked him a very [00:16:00] specific question of, oh, you know, you wrote this marking in this bar.
What did you mean? And he said, well, I’ve got no idea. I wrote it 20 years ago.
Not the response you’d expect or maybe hope for, but by the time we were performing that I had written the piece a year and a half ago in a frenzy of creative activity. And so much of the creative process is a mystery, even to the creator. So there were situations where people were saying, you know, what did you mean by this?
It’s like, well, you know, what did I mean then? What do I? think I might want now, and you know, are they the same thing? Possibly not, and neither of them might be right. So it’s tricky, but you know, under more normal circumstances, I, I mean, see with conducting, there are no normal circumstances. It’s an extraordinarily strange situation you find yourself in.
[00:17:00] Just to give people an idea, just the slightest idea if you’re an international conductor, say, and you are guest conducting with a series of symphony orchestras around the world, you’ll be traveling one week, one place, one week, another place, one week, another place, maybe you’ve never gone to these places before, maybe you don’t speak.
the languages in any of them, and you’re confronted with 80 people who you’ve never met before, and you’re all performing music in three days time that none of you have ever performed before, and somehow you’ve got to create a performance that is going to be spiritually valuable to the 5, 000 people who are paying to see it.
Or however many people it is. So it comes with extraordinary pressure, and it’s an extraordinarily aspirational job. There’s so much of it which is mysterious. It’s actually the mysterious elements of it which I really love. And when I’m introducing people who have no idea about conducting to it, as you know, I know you want to talk about these workshops a little bit [00:18:00] later on I think those mysterious and magical elements are the ones which are worth paying the greatest attention to, in a way.
But there is that magical synergy between the group, almost like a murmuration of birds. You know, how they know when the next one’s going to turn in that direction. It’s, it’s all just, you know, it shouldn’t be possible. It really shouldn’t be possible. According to science, it shouldn’t be possible for a string player to play their instrument in tune.
And yet everyone does. I mean, to get your finger within a nanomillimeter of whatever it is, it shouldn’t be physically possible. So, you know, what we’re doing here is the impossible. That’s what we’re talking about. And I mean that literally, not figuratively.
Alexis: and that and that’s a that’s a very interesting thing and I would like to go back to What is the level of freedom for the musicians to express themselves, express themselves when they are playing that music? [00:19:00] I thought there was a dialogue between the conductor and the musician. And so that means they have a degree of freedom in that process, individually and together.
So there’s something going on there, I believe.
Noah: Yes, I think It’s very interesting because I think a group is looking to, the leader for the vision of the whole because everybody has their part to play in the whole. So you need to present a vision of the whole but not in a way that feels dictatorial. It’s got to start with listening and assessing what’s the player’s needs are as specialists.
You are essentially a generalist as a conductor and you are there to help a group of specialists achieve something together, which perhaps they hadn’t even dreamed of possible was possible when they were just individuals in their practice room or, or, you know, whatever it was [00:20:00] sometimes an individual will have an idea which is incredibly valuable.
Sometimes the hive mind will just come out with something which, you know, you never would have thought of. Much better than anything you could have thought of. And so rather than feeling as though you’ve got to impose your vision, I think there’s always got to be a dialogue between the two. And if you are trying to convince people to do something your way then first of all, you really need to be sure about it.
But also, you know, just telling people to do it isn’t enough. You sort of need to coax them to, to sort of, to try it and explore it and, and to maybe feel as though they thought of it themselves. And there’s a little bit of You know, magic about that as well. Maybe misdirection, but
Alexis: I love that because now I can see the parallel with the world of business and all the teams that needs or so the to assemble the creativity of specialists to accomplish something bigger. [00:21:00] and speaking of that, you offer. Immersive sessions with musicians for people to understand what happens behind the scenes.
And so what inspired you to start those sessions?
Noah: that’s right. It’s an incredibly exciting journey, sort of honing these sessions into what they are now. I think I was inspired by the figure of the conductor itself, which looms large over the popular culture in a very strange way, because nobody really knows how it works. Conducting. Sort of this person who stands up on a podium and waves a magic wand, and there is that image there, that archetype of the magician, the wise old sage, and you’re sort of harnessing that power.
And that’s been an incredibly powerful icon, I mean all these films coming out now, there’s a film just coming out very soon about Leonard Bernstein who was a big force in the culture. There was a film with Cate Blanchett, the name of which I forget. [00:22:00] And you know, there was a film about 10 years ago now called Whiplash, which is an extraordinary movie with a great performance from J.
K. Simmons in that. So people sort of have these preformed ideas of what a conductor might be. What I’m very interested in is the fact that when one steps onto the conducting podium, your personality transforms. this is as true of me as it is of anyone else, and it’s as true of as it is of non musicians.
that self transformation can be, I mean, it’s incredibly volatile. But I think it can be a great vehicle for self discovery and for self actualization. And in that space where you can no longer verbalize, going back to this thing of intellectualizing, you know, when you’re confronted with a bunch of specialists who do something that you know, nothing about.
And all you can do is wave your arms at them and communicate yourself physically. Suddenly you strip away all the nonsense and you’ve got a space in which there’s this [00:23:00] embodied learning experience. And you can, oh, you can discover things through this, which I promise you, you could not discover any other way, given years and endless streams of cash.
It’s a unique experience and I recommend it to everyone. So this is part of my mission to sort of coax everyone into trying it, I suppose, and to see what it can offer them.
Alexis: you describe a little bit how it works?
What people are supposed to be doing?
Noah: So we have an ensemble and we have some music and the participants and I will do a little crash course on how you hold the stick, what the basic moves are, just get a little bit comfortable with that. And then we throw people in the deep end and we invite you up to stand in front of the group and We see what happens and whatever your starting point is, we work from there and it’s quite extraordinary because I’ve never [00:24:00] had a situation where we’re unable to make progress.
I mean, even somebody who’s never listened to a piece of classical music in their life. Sometimes people who have that actually have no foreknowledge. Often end up being the best at it, strangely. But you can make a lot of progress. And once you sort of got used to the very strange sensory overload, all these different things coming at you at once things start happening.
It’s very hard to verbalize. You know, I struggle to verbalize it. All I do in my situation as sort of mentor is I just try and again, just sort of lead people along and see if I can get them to notice the sensations within themselves and how they can modify what they’re doing to get a better more vibrant response from the musicians.
And we get the musicians feedback as well, which is It’s incredibly exciting because obviously they’ve played for many, many conductors. And I’ve heard behind closed doors from some of my players that actually some of the conducting they witness in these sessions is better than [00:25:00] some of the conducting they witness in their professional lives as performers.
So you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of, man. I mean, I don’t know. You should.
Alexis: really love that idea that people who know nothing about it able to feel it in a way. So, basically Listen to what is going on in themselves. Listen to what is the feedback they have from the team and adjust their behavior so that the result will be different. And basically that’s what we are trying to tell leaders in other fields to really understand.
How they should.
adjust what they are doing to have a different response. And that’s not, that’s not changing the others, that’s changing yourself. and look at what is going on, what is really going on. And it’s it’s very interesting that the parallel is so obvious. I am, and I’m now really excited and I would like to try that.
Noah: [00:26:00] You should.
Alexis: When the people are going through that immersive experience what do you believe they take away from that?
Noah: they won’t necessarily take away What they want, but I believe they will take away what they need. And it may not be something that they’re capable of verbalizing at the time. It will start off as a felt difference in the way they operate. And then maybe when you step away from that slightly remarkable experience and go back to your life, which is also remarkable.
I mean, everyone’s life is remarkable in its own way, but you know, it’s, it’s also repetitive and it’s the world that you know. You take the treasure back from the cave into the world that you know, and you see if there’s things you can do, optimize, streamline in order that you can find that sensation again you find out what [00:27:00] that embodied knowledge means to you.
I’m hesitant to say too much because. I don’t want people to come along thinking that they should. I mean, you might come to the session thing. Oh, I really just want to increase my confidence in front of a crowd. And, and, you know, my, my presentation skills, it could be something as simple as that, but that’s not, I mean, you’ll get that.
Don’t get me wrong. You will get that. And then some, but. it goes much deeper. There’s almost something therapeutic about it. And I’m very interested in the depth psychologists and their writings. And I’ve also, because of my, my Viennese heritage, my ancestors escaped from Vienna at the same time as the Freuds.
And they were very much in that scene, which was filled with you know, these great thinkers and artists and stuff. So I, I’m very interested in all that literature and all that thought. You know, I’m hesitant to say too much because I think it’s something deep I don’t want people to have too many preconceptions.
Alexis: But I love it. I believe that we discussed [00:28:00] enough so that people can understand that that’s an experience that you need to live and something will happen. And I, I love what you are saying about, that’s not necessarily what you want, but that’s what you need. And that’s a kind of Nanny McPhee experience.
Noah: it’s funny you say that, because I, I often think of the Nanny McPhee thing, that when you, you want me, but you, sorry, you need me, but you don’t want me, I have to stay. Is this right? And when you want me, but you no longer need me, I have to go. It’s one of the tragic truths of, of life, I think.
Alexis: that’s, that’s a, that’s a very interesting, interesting one. So, how do you continue to, to grow and develop yourself as a leader?
Noah: Well, you have to do things which are going to stress you and stretch you regularly. Anybody who goes to the gym knows this. It’s, you know, relaxation is no good, and pure tension is no good. It’s a [00:29:00] cycle of tension and relaxation which creates hypertrophy. And I think the same is true in terms of the challenges one needs to take on.
So I’ve recently completed this huge challenge and I spent some time after that feeling slightly listless with a big striped pajamas shaped hole in my life. But now I’ve got myriad new challenges which are really stretching me in completely unexpected and completely different directions. So I’m flexing muscles that I hadn’t used before and I hadn’t maybe even known were there.
And I think that’s, that’s crucial.
Alexis: Excellent. I, I, I love the stress and stretch and the part with the, the gym that will really help to, to understand that. Do you have any mentors or role models who have influenced you?
Noah: Well, I, I did. In some sense I still do. But I had a mentor called [00:30:00] John Whitfield, who was a bassoonist and a conductor. He founded his own ensemble, just as I have my echo ensemble. He founded Endymion Ensemble, which was a jewel in the crown of British chamber music making in the 80s if anyone’s interested in Endymion, again, you can find their recordings on Spotify, YouTube tremendous stuff to be found there.
I met John in the last years of his life. He was very unwell. He died quite young. He was in his mid sixties when he died. He’d had health problems throughout his life, but he was a tremendous mentor and support to me. We met completely by chance at a concert. So, go to concerts, you never know who you’ll meet. it’s strange to me now, because it’s been several years since he passed away. And Stripe Pyjamas originally was his idea, actually, we, we, it came up in a conversation that we had. he would have loved to have seen it realised. And, and that made [00:31:00] me think, you know, that he was investing all this time and energy in me, knowing that he wouldn’t live to see me fulfil my potential.
But it was what he wanted to do, and actually I’m convinced that, I mean, I, I supported him with his endeavours as well, and those were life giving for him in his state. But the ability to engage with. musicians and players to arrange and orchestrate music, which he’d always loved doing. And he did some of his best work in those last few years of his life.
So he was an incredibly inspiring man, a difficult man as well. And I think he wanted me to avoid some of the pitfalls that he felt he’d fallen into. when he was my age, particularly regarding the vicissitudes of a creative lifestyle, which maybe are more volatile than if one were working in a different, slightly more stable field.
Alexis: Do you have other people now? that are that are inspiring [00:32:00] you? And the second question that is coming just after is are you are you mentoring other people yourself?
Noah: Hmm. Well, there are plenty of people I find inspiring. I find you inspiring, Alexis. But in terms of mentorship, you know, John was my mentor and I was very, very fortunate. Nowadays, I keep my own counsel and I do my own thing. So life has changed in that regard over the last few years. And yes, I do try my best to be a support to my own colleagues and to my students of whom I have a few and they’re tremendously bright and, you know, many of them conductors, some of them composers.
And so I try to just nudge them in the direction of interesting things. in order that they might shape themselves, which I think is what John did for me. And I mean, also [00:33:00] in funny sort of ways, I was a mentor to John as well, in that I encouraged him to remain musically active despite his ill health. I have a lot of friends of mine who are of older generations as well, and I occasionally try to provoke them and poke them into some kind of creative activity, which I think might be good for them and usually I’m right, so.
Alexis: Yeah, I love it. I love it. So, What are some upcoming projects you’re excited about?
Noah: Oh, well, it’s mostly writing at the moment. I’m very deeply involved in writing projects. I’m currently writing my first symphony, which is a huge undertaking, very, very different from the first opera. And that is a commission for the London Mozart players, which is a chamber orchestra here in London, tremendous group, really lovely, lovely people as well, which is a wonderful thing.
I feel very fortunate to be doing that. And that will be premiered [00:34:00] in the summer as the opening concert of the Thaxted Festival, which was the birthplace of a composer called Gustav Holst. So if you’re new to classical music, you’re getting loads of names here today. Gustav Holst is one to stick into your browser, particularly because next year will be 150 years since he was born.
So it’s sort of commemorating that happy occasion, that milestone. So, so it’s all, it’s a great honor to be doing that. And I’ve got a number of Very exciting composing projects, which are lined up for the new year as well. So it’s going to be busy for the next bit. But at some stage, I look forward to getting back to some, some carving, some conducting as well.
Alexis: Love it! there will be a lot of references to add to the companion blog post And, and finally do you have any advice for emerging leaders, regardless of their
Noah: See, I’m always just hyper aware of how specific my field is and in giving general advice. I never want to, you know, I’m just so [00:35:00] conscious of the fact that. Music can feel like an alien world, so could I really give advice more, more generally? Well, you know, maybe, maybe I can. At the risk of sounding blithe and clichÃ©d, I think you’ve really got to learn to tune out the noise and listen to yourself. It’s very easy to expend a lot of energy on stuff that you do not care about and which you’re not really interested in pursuing for whatever reason. And there is so much static and noise out there now.
So learning how to tune your radio set so that you can figure out a good principle on which to make decisions so that you know what it is you want to do and where it is you want to go. I think, you know, whatever kind of entrepreneur you might be. That’s useful because you could [00:36:00] invest a huge amount of your time, energy, money, other people’s money into creating something that you don’t really believe in.
And I know people who’ve done that and, you know, they always learn from it, but never ends well. if you can avoid it, then perhaps that’s a good thing too.
Alexis: that’s beautiful. love it. I will add a few links about where the people can find your work, follow your work and get in touch with you. And I’m very thankful for having you join the podcast today. So thank you very much, Noah.
Noah: Oh, well, Alexis, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me, and if anybody wants to know more about what I do, they can go to www. noahmax. net. That’s n o a h m a x dot net. That has my music, my paintings as well and various other things. It has a place where you can get in touch. You can also find my music on YouTube, on Vimeo, on [00:37:00] SoundCloud, and you can also, through the website, you can sign up to my monthly newsletter that I mentioned earlier.
And that’s just a monthly burst of creative energy from my part of the world. And you can find out what I’m doing. And if you want to come be a groupie then you can find out where I’m performing, what’s going on. And nine times out of 10, I will be there. So if you want to say hello, that is also really the best way to do it.
Alexis: Thank you very much, Noah.
Noah: Thanks. Bye.