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in the Spotlight the conductor tells Judith Monk what’s so special about Birmingham hat do Birmingham in for the first time at 17. His inspiration to enter “Every orchestra is different, we all make the UK and Riga in Latvia music was seeing Wagner’s Tannhäuser as a music together – this is an international lang- have in common? They small child. His love of Wagner’s music uage. Each orchestra reflects the traditions of both have very tall towers to endures. Andris has music in the blood: from the country, language and their own identity. boast about: Birmingham’s is his mother, who graduated as a choral con- I think this is great. You can tell the orchestra the tallest free-standing clock tower in the ductor and is a professor at the Music Acad- just by the sound of its own personality and world at 361 ft and Riga has Saint Peter’s emy in Riga; his father a cellist, is second character. And Halls – he enthused – Birming- Church, with its 123 m (404 ft) high tower. concert master of the Latvian National ham Symphony Hall is brilliant, also the The similarities don’t stop there though; both Symphony Orchestra and his stepfather is a Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikverein and are near waterways which are used commerc- choral conductor and music teacher, employed Lucerne. There are still many halls I have yet ially, both have strong arts and cultural by the Ministry of Culture. During his teens it to visit.” heritages, both have very mixed ethnic pop- was singing that reigned supreme and Andris In 2003, the Latvian National Opera (LNO), ulations, both have a major airport and had master classes with teachers such as Evelyn a state owned and funded institution, took a concert hall. Where is this leading? Birming- Tubb and Emma Kirkby in Baroque music major risk by appointing the then twenty-five ham’s excellent City of Birmingham Symph- and opera in England, then for a while the year old Andris Nelsons as the Latvian ony Orchestra now has a Music Director from trumpet won leading to a special meeting: National Orchestra’s Principal Conductor. In Riga! Andris Nelsons appointment just helped finally a fully formed conductor emerged. his first season as Principal Conductor at the to forge another link between Birmingham The illness of a trumpet player in the LNO his conducting of Tosca received inter- and Latvia. visiting Oslo Philharmonic, led by conductor national critical acclaim. He made his German Andris and I had a long talk about his Mariss Jansons, enabled Andris to step for- opera debut in January 2007 at Deutsche Oper background, his hopes for the future and his ward and perform the Symphonie Fantastique Berlin with performances of La bohème, and current tenure with one of the most important unrehearsed which earned him a meeting with returned in J
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