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DAVID ATHERTON: ARTIST PROFILE
-Born in Blackpool, England, to musician parents.
'My father was a lecturer and teacher, and my mother used to sing a little bit with Sadler's Wells Opera. So from three days old, I was hearing music everywhere. I couldn't get away from it!'
EARLY MUSICAL EXPERIENCES
-Playing piano, recorder and clarinet by the age of seven.
'It was really only when I got to about the age of fifteen or sixteen that I began to realise that there was more to life that Mozart and Beethoven. I took a vacation job when I was still at school delivering Christmas mail, driving around with postal workers.They used to put the radio on, and Frank Ifield was top of the hit parade at that time. It was exposure to a whole new world of music that I didn't even know existed.'
BECOMING A CONDUCTOR:
-Aged 13: Organising chamber music with fellow National Youth Orchestra members
-Aged 15: Conducting his father's local, amateur orchestra
-Aged 18: Putting on concerts and operas and Cambridge University
'We finished up doing four operas at Cambridge - staged operas with professional casts and very good student orchestras. Those operas were seen by George Solti and Joan Ingpen at Covent Garden, who invited us to London. It was a rather charmed existence, but behind it all I guess I was instrumental in putting the pieces together to make it all possible.'
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CONDUCTOR?
-Ability to draw the best out of people
-Achieving a common interpretation within an ensemble
-Bringing the music and musicians together
'The majority of people you talk to think 'what's difficult about conducting?' They stand in front of a mirror, they put on a Karajan recording, and think 'this is great, I can just beat along with it.' It's really not that simple! There's a lot of psychology involved, to get 90-100 musicians to peak at the same time. It's a rather complex procedure.'
LIFE AS A CONDUCTOR
'As a conductor, you have a lifestyle which sounds very glamorous, but a lot of the time you're sitting in airplanes, you're sitting in hotel rooms, you're having to go to where the orchestras are. So I have this rather silly lifestyle of living on three continents, doing four of five round the world trips a year, and trying to plan my schedule in such a way that it makes sense for the orchestras I'm conducting or the opera companies I'm working with.'
-Playing the last act of Carmen during a power cut, with flashlights as the only source of light
-Having to play an orchestral interlude in Peter Grimes twice while a fire on the stage was put out
'I remember years ago doing a Promenade concert in London at the Royal Albert Hall with Antony Pay playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. There was a man standing in the front row, directly in his line of vision who was conducting the entire piece with his music in front of him, but beating just slightly off the entire time! That's very, very off-putting!'
'If I had one dream and only one dream, it would probably be something ridiculous like conducting the Ring, something gigantic and mind-blowing. It's not something I've done to date; I've done very little Wagner in fact. That's probably top of the list.'