By Jacob Stockinger
The big non-local news item this week was the announcement that the famed conductor Simon Rattle (below) will leave the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic and return to his native England to lead the London Symphony Orchestra starting in 2017.
On weekdays, The Ear generally puts the priority on local events – with previews taking precedence over reviews.
So the weekend provides a chance to catch up.
The 60-year-old Rattle, whose international career started in Birmingham, England, seems a musician for all seasons. He is known for championing contemporary composers. (You can listen to Simon Rattle talking about his new appointment at the bottom in a new YouTube video.)
But his prolific and eclectic discography also includes CD and DVD recordings of the great standards, the symphonies and concertos and other works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorak, Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten and John Adams among many others.
And by all accounts, he is a generous mentor and masterful teacher — even though I have never heard anyone name Simon Rattle as their favorite conductor. Among his students are Andrew Sewell (below), the longtime music director and conductor of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. The Ear thinks it would be interesting to know what Sewell has to say about Rattle.
Here then, are some links to various aspects of the Simon Rattle story. Read one or a few or all of them. There is a lot to think and speculate about – a new concert hall, more contemporary programming and a higher status or respect for the London Symphony Orchestra are chief among them — as we wait and see what develops:
From the BBC news magazine:
From the website of the famed Gramophone magazine:
From The Guardian newspaper:
From The New York Times, with an analysis:
Here is an opinion piece from The Guardian about how the move could be good for the British music scene:
And could Rattle’s move spark a rejuvenation of British classical music? That is the question in this post:
And finally, despite all the hoopla and cheerleading, a note of skepticism has been sounded by The Arts Desk with some specific criticisms: