I remember my first visit to Media City on Monday 20 October 2014, a feeling of excitement, and of intimidation, tall buildings surrounded wearing oversized logos; BBC, ITV, the grey drizzle seeping slowly through my outer layers.
News being read live as it developed, TV personalities reclining in Costa editing scripts with their bleary-eyed producers, an orchestra arriving at work and tuning – and me preparing to meet the BBC Philharmonic for the first time.
There was a palpable buzz in the air.
It seems rather dreamy to look back and say it was an exhilarating first engagement together, but it truly was. We performed Mendelssohn’s First Symphony, written when he was only 15, full of romantic passion, enchantment and angst, alongside Strauss’ Burleske with Zhang Zuo and Halvorsen’s Norwegian Fairy Tale Pictures. I was immediately struck by the orchestra’s generosity, electricity and dedication to the music. And since that wonderful concert two years ago, we have performed many more works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Mozart and Saint-Saëns.
I’m reminded of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, “Instinct is a marvellous thing. It can neither be explained, nor ignored.” And whilst I’m not a fictional detective, let alone have a moustache, I always had a deep rooted sense that we share the same musical instincts and our chemistry is really special. One of the many things I love about the orchestra is its incredulous energy and physicality in performance – there’s a real sense of drive and incisiveness – and this has created some of the most exciting moments we have shared together on stage.
It is a true privilege for me to be the BBC Philharmonic’s Principal Guest Conductor, and I am so looking forward to many more outstanding performances together.