“Horse & Symphony” is going to be very special for General Music Director Christopher Ward

Outstanding music, a breath-taking show and beautiful horses – that is the ingredients for the “Horse & Symphony” Concert at the CHIO Aachen. This year the popular format that is being staged on June 23rd and 24th, will take on the flair of Great Britain, this year’s partner country. Hence, the two evenings in the Deutsche Bank Stadium are going to be special for one person in particular, namely for the General Music Director of the City of Aachen, Christopher Ward. We interviewed the native Brit.

Being British, how much are you looking forward to the “Horse & Symphony” since it is going to be totally characterised by the partner country Great Britain this year?
I am of course looking forward to it twice as much now that my home country Great Britain has the honour of being the partner country of the CHIO Aachen this year. In my native country, the equestrian sport is an extremely cherished tradition that dates with an extremely long history.


The motto this time is ”All you need is love!” – what can the spectators expect?
We have chosen a very diversified programme for kicking off the CHIO Aachen and of course that also includes music from my home country.


Can you reveal anything about the choice of music? Which piece sprang to mind straight away for this year’s show?
Of course, on hearing the motto (“All you need is love“, editor’s note) the Beatles’ song occurred to me immediately, which we will also be playing. And the rest of the musical programme is also characterised by my home country: Well-known classic composers like Edward Elgar or Benjamin Britten, but also highlights from other genres, such as pop (Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Queen), musicals and film music (James Bond, Harry Potter) won’t be missing either.


How long does it take to put a show like the “Horse & Symphony” together?
The “Horse & Symphony” lives from the interplay between a symphony orchestra with a star-studded cast playing live and a unique horse show and a lot of coordination is necessary between all parties concerned in the run-up to the show. The exchange has already been in full swing for months in advance. Normally around 30 to 40 pieces of music are stood on our list and we have to see which the orchestra can play and which are suitable for the show performances. Then, on-site we only have a little time to rehearse together. But we are pretty well aligned in the meantime so this works very well.


You have already been able to gain several years’ experience at CHIO Aachen – could you explain the challenge of the “Horse & Symphony” for you.
It is quite clearly the timing. Normally, I set the pace with the baton. But in the case of the “Horse & Symphony” I always have to keep my eyes on the show programme. Incredible coordination is necessary to ensure that everything fits.


Two shows in one arena that holds a capacity of 6,300 people. Is that still something special for you and your symphony orchestra after all these years?
Absolutely! You only get this exceptional atmosphere here and we look forward to combining classic music and spectacular equestrian sport together every year. This concert is a special highlight for both equestrian fans and music lovers – but also for us the participants!


The “Horse & Symphony” is kicking off a CHIO week that is going to be very British. Very concisely, what can you tell the visitors about Great Britain? Is there something British that you would really like to see here?
If there were scones and tea or strawberries and cream it would be VERY BRITISH and a true enjoyment.


Tickets for “Horse & Symphony” on June 23rd and 24th, 2023 are available here.


The photo shows Christopher Ward, General Music Director of the City of Aachen, during the “Horse & Symphony” concert in the Deutsche Bank Stadium. Photo: CHIO Aachen/Andreas Steindl

The photo shows Christopher Ward, General Music Director of the City of Aachen, during the “Horse & Symphony” concert in the Deutsche Bank Stadium. Photo: CHIO Aachen/Andreas Steindl