As a composer of concert and film music as well as musicals, Dirk Brossé is engaged in a world of glamour - reception drinks, interviews, media attention...
As chief conductor of the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra he is involved in all which comes with it, including conducting the American national anthem in a crowded baseball park and throwing in the first ball under loud cheering by the crowd. As conductor of the international Star Wars Tour, he performs at huge venues in a rock event-like atmosphere, turning himself inside out for one more last choir rehearsal.

In Hong Kong he conducts a grand traditional Chinese orchestra of instruments which are all totally alien to western audiences, trying to immerse himself in an alien music culture. Meanwhile he goes through the difficult process of composing and conducting music for British director Roland Joffé’s latest film.

Brossé spends about half a year travelling around the globe – a remarkable symbiosis with his partner Claire, who spends the other half travelling the world in turn…

But there is another side. The little boy, son of an undertaker, carrying the tin drum on the nursery school group photo, lives on. And nostalgia is not a soft bed. Dirk did not grow up in a musical family and he had to struggle his way into the world of music all on his own.

There is always the urge to compose, and at the same time, insecurity about the result. There is the eternal ambivalence of fear to get sucked down into the maelstrom of success and the tendency to fall back on himself, seeking cover from hectic daily reality in a self-created cocoon, deliberately using details from that reality for relief. Using his smartphone to capture beautiful details of what he sees and keeping the images in what could be called a video diary, he seeks refuge in intimacy.

Once the polish of the public figure is off, reality strikes and becomes music. He literally locks himself up when composing, going all the way until what’s left is a workable musical germ. Then he blows off steam taking a walk across Ghent’s historic city centre to come ‘home’ again and to do his job as lecturer at the conservatory.

Still, “normal” days are rare, there is no escape from the world outside. The paradox of the successful conductor who at the same time attempts to break down the old barriers around classical music and who, deep down inside, remains a seeker ‘standing in shaky balance on the edge of the cliff’ and continues to do so.

The rehearsals have been concluded, the concert is about to begin. The conductor concentrates backstage. He sees himself performing in slow motion. Then he goes onstage under applause and moves in front of the orchestra. He lifts his hands (not using a baton)…ready to embody music.