Interview with Adrian Brown, Conductor of the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra

Southbank Centre welcomes the return of Adrian Brown and the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, who will be performing in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the 14th May. This is set to be a very exciting evening, with a varied programme including the likes of Beethoven, Berlioz and Elgar. We catch up with Adrian ahead of the forthcoming concert.

How are you preparing for your forthcoming performance at Southbank Centre, and what are you particularly looking forward to about it?
I am particularly looking forward to working with the young vibrant Corinthian Chamber Orchestra. They are so responsive and always eager to play to the highest standard. The programme couples my favourite composers – Berlioz and Elgar, with one of the finest pianists in Masa I have worked with. Who could ask for more? I have conducted the First Symphony quite a few times but I always have a fresh look at the score; I particularly listen to Elgar’s own performance and that of my teacher Sir Adrian Boult.

Is there a piece of music you would pick out as one of the ‘best’ works ever written?
I would rate Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis as one of the best works ever written. I have yet to conduct it, though it’s a satisfying work for an even older man to plumb the depths of.

Is there a work that is for you, emotionally, especially important?
Emotionally I am deeply emotionally attached to Elgar: his foibles, his moods, his difficulties, and his inferiority complex. I could not do without his Oratorio, the Apostles. At the end the Heavens open and the power and majesty of the music are for me spiritually overwhelming.

Who has been the most artistically influential person you’ve encountered?
There have been many significant influences on my life, including my wonderful English teacher at school, Peter Hewett, playing and singing for Benjamin Britten, knowing and working for Michael Tippett, and studying with Boult. The most artistically influential individual however has to be Sir Colin Davis. He has been a sheer inspiration all my life, from my father playing for him in the Ipswich Orchestra in 1953 to my first Prom in ‘66, and later working for him and absorbing his musical wisdom.

Which artist (living or dead) would you love to have dinner with?
I would love to have had dinner with Berlioz, though Haydn would be more fun, as would Peter Ustinov!

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre concert, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
My ideal programme would undoubtedly be Bruckner’s 8th Symphony conducted by Karl Bohm with the Vienna Phiharmonic!

What is the most played piece of music on your mp3 player or in your CD collection?
With such a vast collection it’s hard to select individual works. Probably it would be Backaus and Bohm’s performance of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto. None of my own performances, that’s for sure! I do very frequently listen to Wagner’s operas too.

Do you have any strange rituals you carry out before or after you perform?
I do pray before a concert for some spiritual guidance for the performance. It is very easy to get wrapped in your own ego and so I need to quietly remind myself that I am the lucky servant of the composer. A conductor is there to help the players and to ensure that the audience not only enjoy but get something out of the music. After a concert when I get home I always list the concert, band and date in the front of my score – it’s a wonderful record. In big letters will be the pride and pleasure and honour of working with this fine, brilliantly organised and devoted group of talented musicians. It’s all in C major for me – they’ll have all the notes!

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
Oh, I would love to be able to swim!

Click here for more info and to buy tickets. 

Behind the scenes: Corinthian Chamber Orchestra

In a evening of passion and romance, Corinthian Chamber Orchestra and Adrian Brown pair Dvořák’s much-loved cello concerto and Rachmaninov’s monumental Third Symphony.

It is amazing to think that Dvořák procrastinated for years over an existing commission for a cello concerto, considering the instrument insufficient to carry the solo part. Brahms appears to have thought the same; despite having composed his double concerto for violin and cello in 1887, he is reported as saying of Dvořák’s work, ‘If I had known that it was possible to compose such a concerto for the cello, I would have tried it myself!’

We caught up with the orchestra in rehearsals and have these behind the scenes shots with some of the members.

Catch the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra on Tuesday 28 June at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. Get tickets here.