Moira, Lesley, Alan and I went along to the Symphony Hall in Birmingham yesterday afternoon to see/listen to the CBSO perform Haydn’s Symphony no.31, Mozart’s Piano Concerto no.27 (with the wonderful Francesco Piemontesi on piano) and Beethoven’s Symphony no.5.
But, I have to admit that the main reason we were there was to see the orchestra’s new conductor ‘in action’.
Her name is Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla.
You’ve probably never heard of her… but she’s been described as “conducting’s next super star”. She was appointed Director of the acclaimed CBSO last year at the ridiculously young age of 29. She’s from Lithuania and she’s already worked with some of the world’s leading orchestras after winning the Nestle Conducting Competition in 2012.
But, look, what do I know? I’m certainly no classical music expert(!) and I don’t know a huge amount about the art of conducting (understatement)… and, for goodness sake, watching the “Maestro” television series hardly makes me an expert (although I DID love it)! Having said that, we have been very fortunate to have been able to follow the rather brilliant conducting career of our very good friend Daniel Harding (who we’ve known from his childhood… and who is currently principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris). Daniel was hired by Simon Rattle to be his assistant with the CBSO (small world!) at the tender age of 17! I’ve watched Daniel on a number of occasions and recall being hugely impressed on hearing his interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony no.5 (one of my very favourite pieces of music) some years ago and suddenly realising the importance of the conductor to any orchestra or piece of music.
The Symphony Hall had a virtual sell-out audience for this Sunday afternoon concert (yes, Sunday afternoon). You could sense a tangible level of anticipation and excitement as Grazinyte-Tyla took to the rostrum and, believe me, within the very first minute of the Haydn’s Symphony no.31, you just KNEW you were witnessing something VERY special.This tiny, pale, pretty woman was utterly captivating to watch… she was absolutely mesmerising. She already appears to have created a wonderful rapport with the orchestra. It was simply bewitching to watch… complete control, spellbinding grace, hugely charismatic… and completely magical.
Look, I know you’ll think I’ve gone stupidly over-the-top about Grazinyte-Tyla (Mirga-mania?) but, believe me, she IS something very, very special. I strongly urge you to witness her performing alongside the CBSO (warning: go online, check out the CBSO programme and book EARLY!!)… I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.She has clearly already forged a formidable relationship with both the orchestra and the audiences.
Birmingham loves her.
The orchestra loves her.
I absolutely love her.
Photograph: Benjamin Ealovega.