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in the Spotlight: Andris Nelsons


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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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