The insider – our new classical podcast is live!

This year, Southbank Centre and our four Resident Orchestras are bringing you a behind-the-scenes guide to the 2012/13 classical season. Each of the orchestras will invite you backstage to meet all the different people involved in getting the show on the road!

In the first episode of The Insider Gillian Moore, Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre, talks us through the ins and outs of programming the season, and picks out her highlights for the upcoming season.

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Vladimir Jurowski’s 2012/13 season highlights

The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Vladimir Jurowksi, introduces his concert highlights for September – December 2012.

Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 26 September, and 29 September at Royal Festival Hall.

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London Philharmonic Orchestra introduces new works by four young composers

On Tuesday 12 June, 7.30pm at Queen Elizabeth Hall, members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Foyle Future Firsts perform new works by current members of the LPO Leverhulme Young Composers programme – Mark David Boden, Laura Jayne Bowler, David Curington & Hollie Harding.

Here the young composers talk about their works:

The concert also features Tristan Murail’s masterpiece Les Courants de l’espace and Per Nørgård’s cult classic, Voyage into the Golden Screen.

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Listen to our Classical music blog for May Highlights

In this month’s podcast members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment discuss working with Sir Simon Rattle, and Vladimir Ashkenazy gives his personal perspective on Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony. Plus a member of Spira mirabilis talks about the ensemble’s unique approach to Beethoven’s music.

Listen to our classical music podcast for April highlights

Colin Currie premieres a powerful and imaginative new Percussion Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, John Wilson conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in a performance Gilbert & Sulivan’s finest operetta The Yeomen of the Guard, and meet a player-piano who is the star of this year’s Nancarrow festival.

Getting to know conductor Thomas Blunt

Conductor Thomas Blunt is one of the current participants in the International Conductors’ Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, which culminates in a concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall on 13 April 2012. Alongside the other two young conductors, Domingo Hindoyan and Ward Stare, Thomas will conduct the Orchestra in Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D.

Read more about the concert and buy tickets

What’s your earliest musical memory?
Sitting at the piano at home when I was about four years old.

What was it that first attracted you to the conducting profession?
As a boy I sang in Worcester Cathedral Choir, and was lucky to sing in many concerts with large orchestras as part of the Three Choirs Festival. I found the sheer clamour of the orchestra completely thrilling, and seeing one person in front of it all – I just thought that must be the most exciting thing one can do in music.

For you, who are the most exciting conductors working today? Who has inspired you the most?
There are many conductors whose work I admire today – Vladimir Jurowski, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado, Ivan Fischer, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Sir Simon Rattle being a few. I particularly enjoy listening to and watching recordings of conductors of the past – Carlos Kleiber, Yevgeny Mravinsky, Charles Munch and Günter Wand are amongst my favourites. I was lucky enough to take part in masterclasses with Haitink when I was studying at the Royal College of Music – he is a truly inspirational man, conductor, and musician.

How have you benefited from working with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic?
One of the great things about LPO is that they are wonderfully responsive. This puts the spotlight on everything you say and do, as it can all have an immediate effect. At the same time though it gives you a freedom knowing you have that support and that the musical possibilities in front of you are so huge. It’s an incredibly exciting situation to be in, and can only benefit your own artistic and technical development as a conductor.

Do conductors put in ‘practice time’ like orchestral players? How do you prepare for concerts?
This is the great problem for conductors in that it is impossible to practise. The only real way to improve your conducting is to just do it, so for me ‘practice’ is really studying the score, working out techincal issues as to how I’ll conduct it, and reading around the context of the music’s composition as best as I can. This is important so that when you stand up in front of the orchestra you present a clear vision and journey. Conducting is an aerobic activity in one sense, so before concerts and rehearsals I do stretches and yoga, with some meditation thrown in to help get me in the zone.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Conducting a run of Verdi’s Falstaff for Glyndebourne on Tour in 2009. It’s a very challenging opera to conduct, but I was lucky to have also assisted Vladimir Jurowski on the same production during the preceding Glyndebourne Festival. By the end of the run the opera really felt like a part of me, and I have never had so much fun conducting anything.

Which aspect of conducting do you find the most challenging?
Getting the right balance between leading and allowing.

What advice would you give to aspiring conductors?
There is no set path to making it as a conductor, and I think really one has to find one’s own way. Initially it’s essential to get to a high standard on an instrument or two so one can experience music-making from the inside. Following this some postgraduate conducting study is an option. Opera is often a useful route and has been for me; many conductors also start out as repetiteurs. Assisting conductors is a great way to learn, and can put you in touch with all sorts of people in the business. Winning a competition can accelerate things, but really everything is down to determination, luck, and being ready when your time comes.

Aside from conducting, what do you do in your spare time?
I’m a passionate Aston Villa fan, so have spent quite a lot of time feeling depressed about that of late! Apart from that I like cycling, galleries, yoga, novels, papers, politics, and going to the cinema and theatre. Lately I’ve been reading a few books about espionage during and after the Second World War (I’m distantly related to Anthony Blunt). Outside of classical music I love funk, soul, and electronica.

Do you get a lot of fan mail?
That’s one area of my career I need to improve on!

What’s your favourite film? (and film score?)
So many to choose from but I love the Alfred Hitckcock/Bernard Herrmann combination. North by Northwest is just brilliant.

If you could have a conversation with any composer from history, who would you choose?
Mozart probably. Apart from all the usual reasons I just think he would be great company.

Getting to know conductor Domingo Hindoyan

Conductor Domingo Hindoyan is one of the current participants in the International Conductors’ Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, which culminates in a concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 13 April 2012 at Royal Festival Hall. Alongside the other two young conductors, Thomas Blunt and Ward Stare, Domingo will conduct the Orchestra in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with soloist John Lill, and Julian Anderson’s Past Hymns.

Read more about the concert and buy tickets

What’s your earliest musical memory?
My father was a violin player and the executive director of the Orquesta Sinfonica Venezuela in the 80s. I used to attend my father’s concerts every Sunday and these experiences are certainly among since my earliest musical memories.
 
What was it that first attracted you to the conducting profession?
During these same concerts, I have been told that as a 4-year-old I would stand in the aisle of the concert hall and imitate the conductor during the concert as I was fascinated by this role. Later on, as an orchestral player, my initial fascination and curiosity about this profession increased enormously.

For you, who are the most exciting conductors working today? Who has inspired you the most?
For me Daniel Barenboim has been very important and inspiring, also Claudio Abbado whom I met in Venezuela, and Bernard Haitink.
 
How have you benefited from working with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic?

First class orchestras are sophisticated, sensitive, with a lot of personality; at the same time very flexible and responsive, therefore for a conductor it is very demanding. It is like a good Stradivarius or a Ferrari, you need to know how to play them or drive them, being precise, knowing how to impose yourself or just letting them play. It is very complex. I am trying to achieve that.

Do conductors put in ‘practice time’ like orchestral players? How do you prepare for concerts?
I spend a lot of time studying my scores. This is how I prepare for concerts: studying, analyzing, discovering, searching for reasons, asking questions, trying to find the most truthful answers. I also prepare the rehearsals and anticipate potential problems as much as I can, but it is impossible without the orchestra.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
When I did a three hour rehearsal on Alban Berg’s Lulu Suite, with Claudio Abbado sitting next to me with the score. The rehearsal was very useful.

Which aspect of conducting do you find the most challenging?

The perfect relation, coherence and harmony between conception, gesture and the final sound.

What advice would you give to aspiring conductors?

Attend rehearsals of experienced conductors and at the same time try to build their own identity.

Aside from conducting, what do you do in your spare time?

I love watching football, I am a Real Madrid fan, and this winter I picked up skiing while I was working on an opera in Austria. I find the peacefulness and pure beauty of the mountains very inspiring.

Do you get a lot of fan mail?
After concerts I receive some on Facebook. It is quite fun!

What’s your favourite film? (and film score?)
Cinema Paradiso.  
 
If you could have a conversation with any composer from history, who would you choose?
It is quite recent, but I would love to meet Leonard Bernstein.