We asked Suzanne Rolt, Director of St George’s Bristol, to comment on her current work and ideas that have influenced her…

Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
With so much attention focused on young people when it comes to concerns about declining audiences for classical music, I have an idea that we should be doing more to engage people in their forties, fifties and beyond. It’s essential to nurture interest from a young age, but we shouldn’t write off people who missed out on opportunities when they were younger. To my mind, this could be the ideal time to attract them as there’s a sense of the time being right: they’re gaining in maturity, have explored the external world and are now open to the idea of looking inside themselves and reflecting on deeper meanings in life. I see my role as being there to provide opportunities for this to happen, and to make these opportunities as relevant as possible to people’s lives.

What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
The central idea expressed by James Lovelock in his latest book The Vanishing Face of Gaia – A Final Warning. James Lovelock warns mankind that the rate of climate change on our planet has accelerated to such a degree that we have reached a tipping point where a rapid shift to a new warmer state has become inevitable. Some countries, such as our own, will be better placed to survive this change than others, and huge pressures will arise as the Earth’s population begins to fight for space in the safe countries, styled by Lovelock as ‘lifeboats’. We should be preparing ourselves to meet this challenge and, as a parent, I cannot help questioning in particular our approach to education, wondering if we are really equipping our children as well as we could for life in so changed an environment.

What is the most important book/article of ideas that everyone should read and why?
Rather than a book, I’d urge people to listen to J S Bach’s Art of Fugue. Like a book of poetry, you can dip into individual pieces (there are 48 Preludes and Fugues), but you may well find that you eventually crave to listen to the whole work in one go and to give it your undivided attention. Listening to this music lifts the spirit in so many ways, and unravels the mind so that you are free to think of ideas, whether your own or someone else’s.

Further information/

Suzanne Rolt is currently Director of the concert and recording venue, St George’s Bristol. As part of her previous role, with a national music charity, she coordinated an annual festival of music in London.